Starring Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair
From the author of The Fault in Our Stars, John Green’s second book to film isn’t as polished or profound. Paper Towns is specifically catered to the under 18 crowd or those living around the same time as the characters. The Fault in Our Stars had unforgettable performances from Shailene Woodley to Laura Dern, not to mention a star is born turn from Angus Elgort. Wolff played the blind best friend in ‘Fault’ and here as the lead, channeling Zach Braff with his nerdy heroics and bashful demeanor. There is little for those over the age of 21 and the two leading actors are the least interesting, as newcomers Abrams and Smith, prove far more personable and enjoyable.
Since the day she moved next door, Quentin (Wolff) has been in love with Margo (Delevingne). Their childhood friendship dissolved as they grew into teenagers, he remained awkward and unpopular, while Margo became the endlessly fascinating girl all the guys wanted to explore. Their status as neighbors once again worked in Quentin’s favor as his lifelong crush crawls into his window and promises him the best night of his life. He just has to help her get revenge on a cheating boyfriend and her best friend. When that magical night ended, Quentin expected things to be different, instead Margo disappeared, leaving clues only he might understand in order to find her.
"It’s certainly true what they say about the journey being the fun part, especially concerning this film."
I can’t help but compare the effect Margo has on Quentin to the way Natalie Portman made Zach Braff feel in Garden State. Paper Towns isn’t interested in romance as much as it is self-discovery for the impressionable teenager. The young minds that will likely get the most out of this film, will be those who identify most with the lead character. Delevingne, a model turned actress, channels Kristen Stewart (or Jodie Foster is you are older) with her gruff voice and aloof portrayal of the misunderstood Margo. The film really doesn’t pick up pace or find its stride until all the characters road trip in the soccer mom mini-van on a journey to find the missing Margo. It’s certainly true what they say about the journey being the fun part, especially concerning this film.
Paper Towns wants so desperately to be like ‘Fault’, in admiration and success. It isn’t as powerful, nor does it have the force of nature that Woodley brought to that film. Paper Towns projects a type of “high school experience”, or journey, that most viewers won’t recognize or identify with, I certainly didn’t. It creates conversations and talks about scenarios that are more likely to bring regret to older viewers, unlucky enough to be watching, rather than positive reinforced nostalgia. Parents also might object to their younger kids watching a film that subtly condones skipping school, unprotected high school sex and unlawful pranks to name a few.
A new teen generations Garden State, but dull and forgettable for anyone over 21.