Film & TV Reviews

FILM REVIEW: Paper Towns

Paper Towns
Paper Towns

Paper Towns, directed by Jake Schreier (Robot & Frank), follows the massive success of last year’s adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The novel Paper Towns was my June 2015 Book Club Pick. You can read my full review here.

Nat Wolff (who played the supporting role of best friend Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars) is brilliant as Quentin “Q” Jacobsen, the average and some what nerdy American teen, who has been infatuated with Margo Roth Spiegelman (portrayed by model turned actress Cara Delevingne) since she moved in across the road when he was a child.

Margo (Cara Delevingne) and Quentin (Nat Wolff)
Margo (Cara Delevingne) and Quentin (Nat Wolff)

This is Delevingne’s first lead role since her debut role in the 2012 film Anna Karenina. I will say it, Delevingne is not what I imagined when I read the book and some fans of the novel will not be able to get pass that. While Delevingne does not quite nail the part she is able to capture some of the essence of the alluring and mysterious teen. There is definitely more to her than her famous eyebrows.

The true chemistry is between Quentin and his equally geeky best buds Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith). Smith plays Radar straight with deadpan humour and is a good foil to Abrams who at times overplays the goofy loud mouthed vulgar teen. The trio are likeable characters and their onscreen chemistry is part of what makes the film a pleasure to watch.

Radar (Justice Smith), Quentin (Nat Wolff), Ben (Austin Abrams)
Quentin (Nat Wolff), Ben (Austin Abrams), Radar (Justice Smith)

The script is penned by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who co-wrote The Fault in Our Stars (they also wrote 500 Days of Summer together). They have done a good job being faithful to the spirit of the novel. A lot of the dialogue is taken directly from the book.

Obviously for timing reasons there are few minor incidents have to be cut or changed for the film.

The incident from the book where Quentin and Margo break into theme park SeaWorld is cut from the film due to the controversy that has surrounded SeaWorld in the recent years. The duo instead end their night at Orlando’s SunTrust building, which actually works better for the story.

Also in film Radar’s girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair) joins the boys and Margo’s friend Lacey (Halston Sage) on their road trip in their search of Margo. The decision to add a second female character to the road trip is probably to make up for Margo’s absence for much of the film, bar a few dream sequences. Sage brings a depth to her character and shows that Lacey is more than just the popular pretty high school teen.

Without spoiling the ending I did I feel the film had a more optimistic and feel good ending than the book.

Ben (Austin Abrams), Angela (Jaz Sinclair), Lacey (Halston Sage), Radar (Justice Smith), Quentin (Nat Wolff)
Road trip: Ben (Austin Abrams), Angela (Jaz Sinclair), Lacey (Halston Sage), Radar (Justice Smith), Quentin (Nat Wolff)
Best buds: Radar (Justice Smith), Quentin (Nat Wolff), Ben (Austin Abrams)
Best buds: Radar (Justice Smith), Quentin (Nat Wolff), Ben (Austin Abrams)

A word to parents and those concerned about adult content. There is some rear nudity when Margo and Quentin spring her ex-boyfriend Jase (Griffin Freeman) fleeing Becca’s house (The Fosters’ Caitlin Carver). Quentin and his high school nemesis Chuck (RJ Shearer) both have scenes shirtless and in their boxers. Ben and Radar also appear shirtless.

There is also underage drinking at unsupervised house party and some sexual references / language.

Overall fans of the book will enjoy this adaptation otherwise to newcomers it is a sweet, feel-good, coming-of-age part high school road trip movie.

By Graeme Cash

Film, television, theatre, popular media culture, ya fiction, travel...pretty much my life. Based in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

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