By Gary Murray

Starring Nat Wolf, Cara Delevingne and Halston Sage

Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber

Directed by Jake Schreier

Running time 109 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating Cable


John Green is a novelist very popular with the teen audience.  Some of his books are The Fault of the Stars and Looking for Alaska.  The film version of The Fault of the Stars was a big hit in the theaters.  The latest book to be turned into a film is Paper Towns

Set in Florida, the film is about the senior year of high school.  Quentin (Nat Wolf) lives across the street from Margo (Cara Delevingne), a beautiful girl of urban legends.  There are rumors that she was a part of the circus, a teen groupie and other acts of wild abandonment.  Schools are a hotbed of rumor. Margo runs away but always leaves clues about where she has headed.

Quentin is just the opposite, worrying about class so he can get into a good college, become a doctor and start his life. He is treading water in high school, reading Moby Dick.

Quentin has two best buddies, Radar (Justice Smith) and Ben (Austin Abrams).  All three are band geeks but they enjoy each others company.  Radar has a girl and Ben keeps lying about different girls in other parts of the world.

One night, Margo recruits Quentin on a night of revenge where she gets back on her cheating boyfriend, her cheating girl friend and another friend who didn’t tell her about the infidelity.  Quentin also realizes how much he enjoys being around her and the more she pushes him, the more he likes being out of his comfort zone.  They end the night looking over the city.

The next morning, Margo is gone.  That is Act One.

Act Two starts the next day.  Everyone, except Margo’s parents, are upset over the missing girl.  The parents have given up on their daughter.  Quentin is just another kid who wonders where she roamed off. 

Then, he notices that Margo has moved a poster that now stares directly into Quentin’s room.  He sees it as a Margo hint about where she is, and it is a hint for him.  Quentin spends days trying to understand what Margo is saying and where she is.  The search leads him to Leaves of Grass and a souvenir shop on the bad part of town.

Eventually our three guys steam head-long in Act III.  We get one of the oldest story precepts—the road trip.  The Odyssey is a road trip just as The Canterbury Tales.  Quentin is our Captain Ahab and Margo is his white whale.

There are moments of the movie that ring true, especially the ending.  Quentin finds out that he is a much different person than he thought he was and he learns the lesson that the trip is one of the most important parts of the adventure.  Much like Stand By Me, the film is the journey not the destination. 

At the same time, it is kind of hard to believe the beginning precepts that set the film into motion.  What feels like happy circumstance become beats of destiny.  It takes a high degree of disbelief to believe all the clues are left for Quentin.  His filling in the blanks of a relationship becomes his downfall.

The film is directed by Jake Schreier who does a fine job with his young cast.  He captures some of the truer aspects of being a teen in the suburbs.  The film has a simplistic structure.  The best aspects are not in the romance but in the relationships between the characters.  It becomes a detailed slice of life to today’s high school students.  .   

You really never fall in love like when you fall in love for the first time.  Unrequited love is the worst kind of an emotion because there is no resolution. Paper Towns is about this type of unrequited love.  The film gives us both a journey and resolution to unrequited love.  I found Paper Towns to be a much different film that expected and a much more enjoyable experience.

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