PG-13 | 109 min | Drama, Mystery,
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters July 24, 2015**
Synopsis: A young man and his friends embark upon the road trip of their lives to find the missing girl next door.
Review: You can think of author John Green as the John Hughes of this generation mixed with the teenaged answer to Nicholas Spark. He certainly has his pulse on the young culture of today in how they think and act. His new film PAPER TOWNS is a bit road trip film and a whole lot of what I remember of High School.
Quentin (Nat Wolff) is a High School senior who has carried a torch for his neighbor Margo (Cara Delevingne) ever since he was a youngster and she moved in across the street. Over the years he has found himself further and further from her center of coolness until now they seldom speak at all. He is the good kid, mind always on graduation and following the rules. Margo has always lived outside the box with little regard to societies convictions. When she seemingly disappears right before Prom, Quentin and his friends throw caution to the wind and take out to find her; led only be clues she has left behind.
This is a film and story geared to the Young Adult book readers and even though it may cause their parents to reflect upon the glory days of high school there is very little else for them. The story is well written and Green does capture both personalities thoughtfully. The friendships that are reflected here, both good and bad, are genuine and plausible. Wolff personifies the nice kid and it is fun to watch him struggle with the decisions he has to make. It is a nervous common sense that will not be able to subdue his passionate heart.
Delevingne's character is a tad harder to warm up to. Maybe it is because we see her less or at one point in time knew a girl like Margo. She seems self absorbed and selfish. Even if that is not a fair assessment it causes us to be on guard. Our attraction to Quentin is such that we want to see him happy and find answers. We don't trust that he will get all he deserves in Margo. But at the same time the romantic in us can't help but hold out for the happy ending.
Like the John Hughes films of the 80's this one relies on an eccentric and lovable supporting cast to bring much humor to the movie as well as rally around our main character. Ben (Austin Adams) and Radar (Justice Smith) are wingmen for Quentin and each are as nerdy and amiable as he is. They bring a depth to the dialogue and balance out the always serious Quentin. Halston Sage plays Lacey, Margo's best friend, and joins the guys are their expedition. It is perfect casting on all levels and truly helps ground the roles and solidify the story.
PAPER TOWNS is rated PG-13 for some language, drinking, sexuality and partial nudity - all involving teens. The themes and content are geared more toward the 16 and up crowd. The jokes and wit are far too advanced for those fresh into their teen years. Before you start to judge though I want you to think back on the teen films of the 80s. Our parents probably had the same concerns. That said it is worth being cautious about and talking to your young movie goers about. Both should be prepared for the content and humor. It is certainly not a solicitous comedy but is written with depth and brains. The dialogue is smart and the characters carry themselves for the most part with confidence and maturity.
I give it 3.5 out of 5 band halls. The road trip is the standout moment and the first half of the film is too much set up with little meat. Also, there is much backstory that only the book can give. This may cause many to feel cheated and some story elements to appear thin. This spoken as an adult. The High Schooler in my home probably thinks I am old. Like I felt watching the Breakfast Club.