Paper Towns

Directed by:  Jake Schreier

Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair

With a great deal of reluctance, I agreed to review Paper Towns.  I was not looking forward to seeing another film based on a John Green novel.  After all, I remembered the sobbing and squeals of “Oh my God, I can’t take it” as I watched The Fault In Our Stars.  I feared that Paper Towns would make me want to run screaming from the theater, dreading the day my daughter becomes a pre-teen.  However, my fears were unfounded.  Paper Towns is a surprisingly delightful comedy.

Quentin (Nat Wolff) is in his senior year of high school in Florida.  Q has a circle of nerdy friends with whom he has spent the bulk of his high school years.  He is eager to move on to Duke University and is not interested in prom.  His friend Ben (Austin Abrams) wants to go to prom, but he cannot get a date because he is still known as “Bloody Ben” due to a horrific urination incident during their freshman year.  Radar (Justice Smith) does have a girlfriend and a date to the prom, but he is worried she will find out his secret shame: his parents are trying to get into the Guinness Book of World records for having the largest collection of Black Santa Clauses.  

Right before prom, Q is awoken in the middle of the night by his next door neighbor Margo (Cara Delevingne).  Margo is the most popular girl in school – attractive, free-spirited and a complete rebel.  Q has had a secret crush on her for years and is stunned to see her coming through his window.  Margo needs him to drive her around in his mother’s car so that she can exact revenge on her cheating boyfriend and skanky best friend.  Q and Margo set out for a night of revenge which includes Nair, saran wrap, spray paint and nude photos.  Q has the time of his life and feels a real connection with Margo.  But when he goes to school the next day, Margo has disappeared.  Q is distraught until he finds a series of clues left behind by Margo, and he and his friends decide try to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Paper Towns
has been a bit overshadowed by the drama surrounding Cara Delevingne’s awkward interview on Good Morning Sacramento.  While Delevingne had low energy during the interview, the hosts were rude and unprofessional. Moreover, it was incredibly bad form for The View hosts to state that Delevingne was acting like a “bitch” during the interview.  As older women, they should find a more articulate way to deliver constructive criticism to the younger generation.

With that being said, Paper Towns is a smart, fun romp that hearkens back to high school films such as Some Kind of Wonderful, Can’t Buy Me Love, and pretty much any movie starring Anthony Michael Hall.  It is the typical high school movie involving a regular guy and the untouchable dream girl.  The performances by the young actors in this film are solid.  The dialogue is fast-paced, biting and occasionally quite witty.  Simply put, the film is a heartwarming journey about friendship and seizing the day.  How can you not love a film where nerds get drunk and yell out “Valar Morghulis”?

There are a few missteps.  John Green films often involve teens spouting ridiculously mature dialogue about life and man’s purpose.  Additionally, half way through the film, it is very clear that the source of Q’s obsession, Margo, is not worthy of his undying devotion.  His search for her begins to drag and feel overly dramatic.  Overall, those flaws are forgivable.

Paper Towns
earns a 0.06.% rating.  Have a nice ale with this one.