Review: ‘Paper Towns’, Starring Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne


Last year, The Fault in Our Stars was a heartfelt romance that everyone could enjoy. It had a lot going for it: great characters, good relationships, and a story that was riveting with just the right amount of emotional beats. Paper Towns, another adaptation from author John Green, never gathers enough momentum for it to be enthralling. It remains close to its source material, but is weaker in terms of characters and story, yet still entertaining enough to sit through.

Quentin (Nat Wolff) is completely taken with Margot (Cara Delevingne) when she moves in across the street. They are inseparable when they’re younger, but after Margot takes to discovering mysteries, they begin to drift apart to the point of never hanging out. They both have different friends and come their senior year, she barely acknowledges him. One night, Margot unexpectedly seeks out Quentin for a revenge-fueled prank. The next day, she disappears.

Finding clues that lead Quentin to believe that Margot wants him to find her, he and his friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith) set out on an adventure to discover the mystery of where Margot went. Since she loved mysteries so much, Quentin believes “she became one” and hated the paper town where she lived, Quentin’s only hope in finding Margot is to follow the clues she left behind.

The trailers for the film are misleading, and if you’ve never read the book then you’re in for a bit of a surprise as to where the story actually leads. Less important is Margot to the story than is at first revealed. She’s an adventurer, and exactly the kind of girl guys usually fall for in films, but who is she really? Quentin, on his search for Margot, ultimately finds that the friendships he has are important and to cherish the time he has with Radar and Ben because they’ll all soon be at different universities, heading in different directions.

So Paper Towns is less romance and more of a coming-of-age story of youth, expectations, and revelations. Margot is the ideal and unrealistic example of love that Quentin soon discovers isn’t what he thought it would be, and neither is the ending, which is what saves the movie really because it isn’t without faults. The film relies too heavily on far-too-corny dialogue and popcorn fluff, and spends too much time on the mystery of Margot rather than just giving us the real Margot. She is used to progress the rest of the characters in the story and never herself. Perhaps her character is more expanded upon in the novel, but is edited out for the most part the moment she disappears.

Paper Towns is exactly what you want it to be. The ending is solid and thankfully doesn’t veer down the road you think it’ll go down. The mystery clues are far too coincidental and scattered in places most would never think to look. But the attention to the mystery begins to dwindle as we turn our eyes toward the characters, their growth, and their road trip.  It doesn’t rank as one of the more memorable films of the year, but you’ll enjoy the film for what it gives you, with a solid ending that is a very thoughtful revelation.



Release Date: July 24, 2015 | Director: Jake Schreier | Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber | Cast: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, Jaz Sinclair, Cara Buono, Meg Crosbie | Genre: Drama, Mystery | MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language, drinking, sexuality, and partial nudity – all involving teens 


About Author

I'm a Washington, DC-based film critic and entertainment journalist. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), I'm a geek who loves talking about movies and TV. If I'm not at the movies, I'm catching up on my TV watching with a glass of wine in hand.

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