Film Review: Paper Towns

Written by Tommy Tracy


Paper Towns stars Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne and focuses on a high school senior, Quentin (Wolff) who is deeply in love with Margo (Delevingne), the school’s cool girl who has broad ideas of what life should be. Her idea of a good time consists of breaking into Sea World and plastic wrapping a car. She enlists the help of Quentin (better known as Q) one night, getting revenge on her ex-boyfriend and friends, and taking part in a series of events that are ridiculous, yet entertaining. Then, she simply disappears.

Paper Towns
Photo Credit: Michael Tackett

What really sparks this film is the acting. Wolff is fantastic as the nerdy Q, a boy who has never ditched school or even gone to a high school party. To see his transition from law abider to rule breaker is refreshing. But, what really hits home is his relationship with his two best friends Ben (Austin Abrams), and Radar (Justice Smith). The three boys embark on a road trip to find Margo once she’s run away and this trip that is worth taking. With great references to Pokémon, a broadsword made of beer cans and deep character development, you are able to connect with any of these kids. They make fun of each other but you can see they enjoy each other’s company. I had no trouble believing these three were the absolute best of friends. They’re sweet and naïve, especially Q, who thinks he’s searching for his perfect girl instead of who Margo really is. He has constructed perfection in his mind instead of reality. This theme is also thrown into the boy’s friendship, who have yet to talk about what they’re going to do as friends after high school, as they’re all attending different colleges. It’s actually a hard pill to swallow as everyone who has graduated high school and made bonds has gone through.

The music choices in the film are fantastic. Great selections from Vampire Weekend, HAIM, Galantis and Grouplove fit perfectly into whatever scene they are injected in. There’s love, fun and even heartbreak hidden in these songs and they are utilized to perfection.

Paper Towns
Photo Credit: Michael Tackett

My biggest problem with this film is the character of Margo. While Delevingne knocks it out of the park, I couldn’t help but deeply despise this character. Margo may be one of the most selfish characters I’ve ever experienced on screen. She skips town, leaving her parents, little sister, friends and the boy she has led on alone to worry and ponder her whereabouts. Though she leaves clues to where she has gone, clues that Q later figures out, it seems as though Margo does not want to be found. She cares only about herself, even when this boy who loves her drives from Orlando to New York to find her, in his mother’s minivan no less. This is another one of my problems with the film because if I were to take my mom’s van without telling her, during a school week, I would not have been alive to see my graduation. Margo’s parents also seem to care very little about her disappearance, stating she has done it before and she’ll be found when people stop talking about her.

Paper Towns is a modern day teenage comedy in the same vein as what John Hughes brought us in the 1980s. This is the highest of compliments this film can get because Hughes’ films are remembered for their characters and development, something I can easily see Paper Towns remembered for. While I did have a few problems with Margo and the parental absence, the character relationships, silly teenage dialogue and mesmerizing emotion are a hit. A very welcome cameo (for The Fault in Our Stars fans) and black Santas are also highlights.

Paper Towns Rating: 8 out of 10