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.

Book Club Pick

Paper Towns by John Green

Book Club Pick: June 2015


Book Details:

Title: Paper Towns

Author: John Green

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books

First Published: 2008

Pages: 353



The prologue to the novel opens with our protagonist Quentin “Q” Jacobsen recalling an incident from when he was nine-years-old; when he and his neighbour and childhood friend Margo Roth Spiegelman found the body of Robert Joyner, who had committed suicide.

The novel flashes forward, Quentin is now a senior in high school and like many childhood friends he and Margo have drifted apart. It is a month before his graduation, when in the middle of the night, Margo shows up at his bedroom window with a plan to seek revenge on those she feels have wronged her.

After their night of revenge on classmates who have wronged them the duo break into theme park SeaWorld.

The next day at school Quentin wonders if he and Margo will reconnect. Margo does not come to school that day or the next. After three days her parents file a police report. As Quentin was the last person to see Margo he is questioned by police.

Quentin learns that Margo has run away multiple times before and that her parents now seem to be beyond caring – her mother plans to change the locks. The police point out she is not a minor and that she left on her on accord.

When looking at Margo’s window Quentin notices a poster of musician Woody Guthrie taped to back of her window shade. Quentin enlists the help of his best friends Ben and Radar and they bribe Margo’s younger sister to let them search her room. This search leads them to Guthrie’s song ‘Walt Wiltman’s Niece’, which leads them to a collection of Wiltman’s poetry with lines highlighted.

He believes that Margo has left these cryptic clues for him to find her. With the help of Radar, Ben and his girlfriend Lacey, the four set off on a road trip in search of Margo Roth Spiegelman.

Paper Towns has been adapted into a film starring Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne. It has a June to August release. Click here for worldwide release dates.

PaperTownsPoster   PaperTownsTrio

Before reading the novel I was unaware of the term ‘Paper Towns’ and found it interesting to learn about Paper Towns along with the characters and have done more research on the subject since finishing the book.

There are incidents of excessive underage drinking, sex and nudity. These incidents are not glorified but rather a portrayal of teenage life. I would recommend Paper Towns for junior high school age students and older.



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Source: I purchased a copy of this book.