Paper Towns

Posted July 24, 2015 by in


Total Score

2/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: YA-adaptation, drama
Director: Jake Schreier
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Actors: Stars: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams
Length: 109 minutes
Release Date: 7-24-2015
Studio: Fox 2000 Pictures, Temple Hill Entertainment
What We Thought

The trouble with Paper Towns is that the characters are paper-thin.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
As childhood friends, Quentin and Margot rode their bicycles together through the neighborhood.  Quentin wore a helmet.  Margot did not.  This tells you everything there is to know about them, which isn’t much.
     The trouble with Paper Towns is that the characters are paper-thin.  Quentin is the cautious one, the smart one.  He’s studious, and has his life planned out.  He never goes to parties, or have much fun.  Margot, on the other hand, is the adventurous one, the cool one, who lives in the moment.   Now seniors in high school, the two barely speak, having drifted apart over the years.
     That changes one night when Margot comes through his window, asking for his help.  So begins a night of vandalism and mischief, as Margot extracts her Paper Townsrevenge against her cheating ex-boyfriend and her supposed best-friend, with Quentin acting as her getaway driver.
     The next morning, she vanishes.  Her parents are nonplussed, as she runs away frequently.  If Margot were a real teen, you’d have to wonder what was going on in her home, and call CPS.  But she’s not.  She’s a fictitious character, with motivations and behaviors that exist only in existential YA yarns.
     Paper Towns is about how Quentin tracks her down, following clues Margot left for him.  He’s on a mission, and his search for her brings him out of his shell, sort of.  He goes to a party at her ex’s place, if only to find clues as to where she might be (not that he socializes, or drinks, or hooks up with anyone).  He skips school, breaks into an abandoned building (if accidently), and finally embarks on a road trip with his geeky friends, Ben and Radar (Austin Abrams, Justice Smith), to find Margot.
     Whether she’s present or absent, Margot is a delinquent version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, motivating a change in Quentin that is as unnecessary as it is slight: he’s a college-bound, straight-A student.  He likes to hang out with his friends and play video games.  Sounds like an well-adjusted kid to me (now, Margot…)
     Compare this with Risky Business, similarly a coming-of-age story, in which virginal Joel is oppressed by his parents, prompting teen rebellion.  He has his first sexual experience, tries pot, and turns his parents’ house into a brothel.  But by the end, Joel is an adult, making his own decisions.  In Paper Towns, Quentin skips school one time and kisses a girl.  What a rebel…
     As his teacher points out, missing a quiz from his one-time delinquency will not keep him from getting into med school.  So what’s at stake here?  Paper Towns is about finding someone who, as Quentin learns, as we knew all along, isn’t worth the fuss.  As an adolescent might put it, Paper Towns is like, so lame.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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