Film Review: “Paper Towns”

I only “sort of” wanted see “Paper Towns” when it was released, since I read the book. I was ambivalent about the book, as it bounced around like a Chihuahua puppy. However, I totally appreciated the ending of the book, with its, “Hey look! She’s a jerk!”


Summary of Paper Towns:


Quentin (or “Q”) is a seventeen year old kid who has been in lust with his mysterious neighbor, Margo Roth-Spiegelman, since she moved in across the street when they were kids. She blossoms into the “it” girl in high school and Q is portrayed as the pining dork who hangs out in the band room with his two best friends.


One random night, she breaks into his window and asks him to help her extract revenge. He does it because she’s Margo Roth-Spiegelman, girl of his dreams, and he has a Honda Odyssey van. As their felony-filled night comes to an end, Q just knows that Margo will be his true love…


But alas, Margo disappears because she is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside of an enigma. Q finds clues about her voluntary desertion and, with his friends, leaves Florida right before prom night to go find her and bring her home!


And then the movie makes a left turn from the book and I was scratching my head. The director throws in sex (not shown, but discussed…in detail). There’s also a highly unlikely couple hooking up after a few hours in a minivan.


*My translation of the face palm moment:*


Ben: I like you for you, not because you’re hot.


Lacey: I know that I’m popular and never talked to you before yesterday and will probably ditch you like the disease that I told Q that I used to have, but will you go to prom with me? *bats eyelashes*


Ben: Duh. You’re hot. I mean, yes!


Me: Puh-lease.


Even the ending of the movie is junk. The book reveals Margo’s selfishness. The movie makes her out to be a misguided teen, trying to find herself. Also, when the camera cuts to Q getting ready for the prom at the end of the film, his mom is lovingly standing in the doorway. Please introduce me to the parent who would be chill with a kid who “borrowed” the van and drove the entire east coast and back.


I don’t recommend this movie. If you do find the need to see it, make sure you are of high school age. There is swearing (yes, the f-bomb), underage drinking at a party where the parents are mysteriously absent, and a naked boy running from a girl’s bedroom (but he has his hands over those bits). Sex is not shown, but the topic of flippant chit chat. The plot downplays the seriousness of the “pranks”–and unless you want to have a criminal record, I’d avoid those particular ones (Except the wrapped car…that’s just plain fun).


Personally, I didn’t go into the movie expecting much, and it delivered. But, the soundtrack was actually good. The movie didn’t show Margo was a self-absorbed girl who didn’t like her parents’ rules and ran away. She didn’t care for Q, she just manipulated him and his feelings for her.


The one highlight for the random girl in the theater (who squealed so loudly I laughed) was the cameo by Ansel Elgort. That girl had a serious fangirl moment.