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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Movie Review - Paper Towns

Paper Towns (2015)
Starring Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage, and Jaz Sinclair
Directed by Jake Schreier
***This film is currently streaming on HBO Now***

I'm unashamed to say that I was a fan of The Fault in Our Stars, with the film garnering a top 15 spot on my list of 2014's best of the year.  When another one of author John Green's novels, Paper Towns, was adapted for the screen last year, my expectations were somewhat high, although its trailer and reviews were significantly weaker-looking.  While Paper Towns doesn't aspire to be the emotional teenage drama that is The Fault in Our Stars, it also doesn't really succeed at being much of anything, crafting a film's plot around a character who is unappealing and egotistically self-centered which makes other characters' fascination with her irritating as opposed to compelling.

As young kids, Quentin and Margo were great friends, with the adventurous Margo drawing out the more timid Quentin to fun times outside the confines of their respective yards.  Now seniors in high school, Quentin and Margo (Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne) have drifted apart socially over the past few years despite still living across the street from one another.  Quentin's a little geeky (not overly so, mind you) whilst Margo hangs with the cool kids, but one evening, Margo knocks on Quentin's bedroom window like old times asking him to cause some crazy havoc on her friends who have betrayed her.  Quentin agrees and they have a great night together putting saran wrap on cars and shaving off eyebrows of Margo's former friends.  The next morning, however, Margo is gone...and it's not the first time the now eighteen year-old has run away from home.  Quentin, still reeling from his reunion with Margo, begins to see clues the clever Margo has left behind in order to reveal her location to anyone who may care enough to investigate and Quentin sets out to find her.

Nat Wolff and the two actors playing his buddies - Austin Abrams and Justice Smith - do a lot to make Paper Towns watchable with their witty repartee, as does Halston Sage as Margo's best friend Lacey who can't understand what she did to make Margo so angry, but Lacey's confusion over Margo's sudden departure is part of the biggest overarching problem with the film.  Why exactly does Margo leave?  Why exactly did she turn on her friends after so long, particularly Lacey?  Why exactly does Quentin feel this need to go and find her?  None of these questions are answered satisfactorily in any way and Margo herself as a person seems like someone who doesn't give a damn about whom she hurts or leaves behind.  Yet, despite spending two-thirds of the movie searching for this gal, Paper Towns fails to make me care about or understand why any of the characters care about finding this girl.  Paper Towns was never meant to have the emotional impact of something like The Fault in Our Stars, but I at least hoped it'd resonate as a nice coming of age teen flick which it unfortunately does not.

The RyMickey Rating:  C-

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