‘Paper Towns’ will easily blow away in cinematic history

By Jacob Wiegand, @JacobWiegand_DE

Everyone, at one time or another, has or will face the difficult years of adolescence. But, few films are able to capture an accurate portrayal of those trying times.

“Paper Towns” (Rated PG-13; 113 min) directed by Jake Schreier, attempts to make its name as one of the great coming-of-age stories of the generation but ultimately fails to make it past the status of a forgettable movie-going experience.


Childhood friends who have grown apart with age, Quentin, played by Nat Wolff, and Margo, played by Cara Delevingne, embark on a night of excitement as Margo sets out to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend, who cheated on her, and her former friends, who did not bother to tell her about his infidelity.

But the next day, when Quentin decides to tell Margo of the feelings he has long harbored for her, he does not see her at school and soon finds out that Margo has ran away.

Determined to find out where Margo went, Quentin begins searching for clues as to her whereabouts. This soon leads Quentin and best friends, Radar and Ben, played by Justice Smith and Austin Abrams, and newfound friends, Lacey and Angela, played by Halston Sage and Jaz Sinclair, on an adventure hundreds of miles from home in search of their friend.

The film, based on the John Green novel of the same name, wants to be the next “The Spectacular Now” or “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” but unfortunately does not reach the depth or sincerity of the formerly mentioned films.

At times, “Paper Towns” falls into the realm of overdramatic. When stopping at a gas station for supplies during their trip, the five companions jump out of the car in extreme haste as not to sacrifice mere minutes of time. This scene takes on an unrealistic and cheesy tone which only further degrades the film.

“Paper Towns” addresses themes dealing with the sanctity of high school friendships and the sudden urge of many young people to just pick up everything, leave home and find themselves. These themes are basically clichés of the genre which have been used repeatedly in similar films. If addressed in the right way, worthwhile films can be taken from such themes, but “Paper Towns” does not realize its full potential.

It is not a film where I felt a compulsive urge to simply get up and leave the theater, but it is also not a film I felt really had any affect on me. I never felt “Paper Towns” was anything more than conventional.


The story’s characters were typical teenagers and I never found anything in their onscreen personality that made me really care about what happened to them at the end of the story.

Margo is easily the most interesting character, but she is hardly shown in most of the film. Although, this aspect of the film is perhaps an asset considering the film is, in many ways, about the mysteriousness of Margo Roth Spiegelman.

Some are likely to like the film. Perhaps lovers of the bestselling novel will come away from the film with better feelings. However, I think the film leaves a significant something to be desired.

2.5 out of 5 stars