Synopsis: A young man and his friends embark upon the road trip of their lives to find the missing girl next door.
Release Date: July 24, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Mystery
After the success of last year’s The Fault in Our Stars, it was only a matter of time until more of author John Green’s books were adapted into movies. Next up: his 2008 book Paper Towns.
Paper Towns is about a high school senior named Quentin (Admission‘s Nat Wolff) who lives across the street from a girl named Margo (Cara Delevingne from Anna Karenina). Q and Margo grew up together, but drifted apart when they reached high school. Ever since they were kids, Q has been in love with Margo, so when she knocks on his window one evening and asks him to help her get revenge on her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, he agrees, even though she hasn’t spoken to him in months. He ends up having the time of his life, connecting with Margo on an emotional level by the end of the night. The next morning, Q wakes up and Margo has disappeared, but not without a trace; she seems to have left clues for Q that lead to her location. Along with his friends Ben (Austin Abrams from “The Walking Dead”) and Radar (Justice Smith from “The Get Down”), Radar’s girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair from “Rizzoli & Isles”), and Margo’s friend Lacey (Halston Sage from Neighbors), Q sets off, following the clues on a scavenger hunt that they hope will lead them to Margo.
Like that of The Fault in Our Stars, the screenplay for Paper Towns was written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. Unlike The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns is an uplifting and feel good movie; there’s no need to bring the tissues to this one. Director Jake Schreier (Robot & Frank) has managed to make a movie that harkens back to the days of coming-of-age adventure movies like Stand by Me and The Goonies, yet still keeps the storyline feeling fresh and modern. Paper Towns sends a group of likeable misfits on a soul-searching, once-in-a-lifetime trip without feeling too familiar about it. There’s no pirate’s treasure (but there is a dead body – shhh!), but the spirit is the same.
Paper Towns really is a tale of two movies. For the first half, Q and Margo are having their adventurous evening, running around alternating between getting into and avoiding trouble, and basically acting like teenagers. The second half is more of a Scooby-Doo mystery, with Q and his cronies travelling all over the east coast (literally, from Florida to New York), finding clues and following Margo’s path. But Paper Towns is about much more than simply finding Margo; it’s about a magical quest upon which five friends embark as a last hurrah before graduating high school and going their separate ways for college. Margo is the goal, but that’s not important – it’s the journey, not the destination, which makes Paper Towns what it is.
What Paper Towns is really about is friendship, and that’s what makes it so much fun to watch. There’s a cool nostalgia attached to the film; it’s the story of a group of pals who will do anything for each other, especially when the chips are down, and that’s a movie that just isn’t seen much these days. It’s funny, it’s charming, it’s heartfelt – but mostly, it’s just a good time.
For the most part, the cast in Paper Towns is great. It’s wonderful to see Nat Wolff get to spread his wings as a lead in a good movie after seeing him wallow away in support roles for so long, and he plays the part of the love-struck geeky teenager perfectly. Likewise, Austin Abrams and Justice Smith are excellent as his pals, and the three together exhibit a close comfort that makes it seem like the actors have been hanging out together for years, and that, in turn, helps the audience to feel as if it is part of the gang as well. Jaz Sinclair and Halston Sage are both fine in their limited, two-dimensional roles, basically playing the straight (wo)men to the three clowns’ antics on the road. The weak link in the cast is Cara Delevingne as Margo; she’s stiff and wooden, seemingly reading unemotionally from cue cards when she ought to be the philosophical free spirit that Q is missing from his life. Luckily, Margo disappears before the midway part of the movie and becomes the film’s MacGuffin, sparing the viewer from any more of Delevingne’s bad acting and letting them enjoy the fun chemistry that exists among the rest of the cast.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Jake Schreier
- Producer(s): Marty BowenWyck Godfrey
- Screenwriter(s): Scott NeustadterMichael H. Weber
- Story: John Green
- Cast: Nat Wolff (Quentin)Cara Delevingne (Margo)Austin Abrams (Ben) Justice Smith (Radar)Halston Sage (Lacey)Jaz Sinclair (Angela)
- Editor(s): Jacob Craycroft
- Cinematographer: David Lanzenberg
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Mary Claire Hannan
- Casting Director(s): Ronna Kress
- Music Score: Ryan Lott
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA