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Murray Journal

Dan's Review: "Paper Towns" a sweet, but unrealistic look at teen life

Aug 04, 2015 12:16AM ● By Dan Metcalf

Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff in Paper Towns - © 2015 - Twentieth Century Fox

Paper Towns (20th Century Fox)

Rated PG-13 for some language, drinking, sexuality and partial nudity - all involving teens.

Starring Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair, Cara Buono, Josiah Cerio, Hannah Alligood, Meg Crosbie, Griffin Freeman, Caitlin Carver, RJ Shearer, Susan Macke Miller, Tom Hillmann.

Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, based on the novel by John Green.

Directed by Jake Schreier.



Sometimes, I wish I could have a ‘do-over’ on my teen years, especially high school. Then again, there are some experiences and friendships I had and developed that I would not trade for anything in the world. Recent trends in young adult literature and films are constant reminders of the beauty, innocence and romance of youth. Paper Towns, the second film adaptation in the past 12 months of a John Green novel is one of those films that create such nostalgia for the awesome and awful teen years.

Nat Wolff stars as Quentin (or “Q”), a brainy kid who stays out of trouble by immersing himself into his studies. He also pines for his neighbor Margo (Cara Delevingne), his one-time childhood friend who transitioned into an adventurous teen whose zest for life is rivaled only by her popularity. One night, Margo sneaks into Q’s bedroom and enlists him to join her in taking out revenge on her popular friends who all seem to have betrayed her.  During their escapades, Q and Margo form a bond, but it all fall apart when Margo disappears the next day. Q soon discovers clues that Margo leaves behind, which leads him on a quest that will take him from his hometown Florida suburb all the way to upstate New York. He also enlist his pals Ben (Austin Abrams), Radar (Justice Smith) and Margo’s friend Lacey (Sage Halston) to jump into his mother’s minivan to join him in his search for Margo. Radar’s girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair) also tags along, but only if Q can guarantee that the group can return in time for the senior prom.

The group encounters difficulty in the way, as everyone except Q experiences romance. At the end of their journey, Q discovers a few things about himself – and Margo – that will forever shape who he will become as a man.

Paper Towns is a sweet film, and surprisingly less dramatic than John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars. The performances and story are conspicuously romantic, with improbable outcomes for characters that probably wouldn’t mesh in real-life.

Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne share a certain chemistry, but always seem less-than-perfect for each other. Perhaps that’s deliberate, considering the morale and conclusion of the story, but one cannot help but notice the necessary suspension of reality in order to enjoy the story.

Paper Towns may not be a realistic teen tale, but it does cause one to look at teen life a little less pessimistic.

Paper Towns Trailer