A Not Weepy But Wise “Paper Towns”
By Skip Sheffield
Sometimes it seems like we never leave high school. No matter what success failure, or mediocrecy we achieve later in life, what we were in high school remains an integral part of us.
This thought came to me after seeing “Paper Towns.” It’s a romantic comedy set in senior year of high school in Orlando. The script, by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, is based on the young adult novel by John Green, who collaborated with the screenwriters previously on the weepy drama “The Fault in Our Stars.”
“Paper Towns” is no weeper. In fact it is rather uplifting. Quentin meets Margo as a young boy in their Orlando suburb and is immediately smitten. Even as a little girl Margo is gorgeous and different, marching to the beat of her own drummer.
“She loved mysteries because she became one,” Quentin muses.
Quentin who grows into a nerdy teenager played by Nat Wolff, and Margo, who has only grown more beautiful, played by British fashion model Cara Delevigne, have drifted apart. One night, only about a week before senior prom, Margo climbs into Quentin’s bedroom window and lures him into an all-night caper of revenge against people she feels has wronged her. Quentin is apprehensive and fearful, but he goes along, and as the night progresses he becomes bolder- and more in love with Margo.
Quentin has two outsider best friends: Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith). Radar has a long-time girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair) he dotes upon and plans to take to the prom. Ben has no girlfriend, but he dreams about pretty Lacey (Halston Sage), who goes with an arrogant jock.
Shortly after their all-nighter, Margo disappears. She leaves behind cryptic clues on where she might be. Quentin enlists his friends as detectives and cajoles them on a mission that ultimately takes them to a “Paper Town” (a town that exists only on maps) in upstate New York
Credibility is not the strong suit of “Paper Towns.” Quentin seems to have an endless supply of money, and parents that don’t care if he takes off with their car. Likewise his friends take off on an adventure with no regard to their parents or worry about cops or school officials.
“Paper Town” is a fantasy, but it is not sugary sweet or sappy. Everyone learns a valuable lesson save Margo, who remains an enigma. Perhaps that’s how it should be. We all need a little mystery in life.