Paper Towns – film review

Paper Towns

Starring: Matt Wolff, Cara Delevingne and more.

Directed by: Jake Schreier

Summary from Rotten Tomatoes:

Adapted from the bestselling novel by author John Green (“The Fault in Our Stars”), PAPER TOWNS is a coming-of-age story centering on Quentin and his enigmatic neighbor Margo, who loved mysteries so much she became one. After taking him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, Margo suddenly disappears–leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher. The search leads Quentin and his quick-witted friends on an exhilarating adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving.Ultimately, to track down Margo, Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship–and true love.

I have a confession to make: I wasn’t the biggest fan of John Green’s Paper Towns.

Shock. Gasp. Horror. Hear me out. I read both Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns back to back and I had to say that I enjoyed the former more. Not only that, Looking for Alaska is my favourite John Green book of all time, so naturally, Paper Towns seemed duller less original in comparison. Paper Towns was a movie I was by no means excited to see (even if Cara Delevingne is a queen and I adore her). I looked forward to the confirmed casting of Looking for Alaska (something I’m sure I’ll make a post about when it happens) more than the film, if I’m being frank.

I did go to see it, eventually. Of course I did! It’s John Green! And so, as I walked home from the cinema that day, I forgot every reason I ever doubted this film’s brilliance.

I think it’s fair to say that there is something about John Green’s books that makes the transition from page to screen so seamless. And yes, you could say “Well, obviously! He writes contemporary books. That’s easy enough to pull off! None of that CGI and fantasy elements that are needed like if you were adapting a fantasy book.” But no book to movie adaptation is a piece of cake and I can’t say that all YA contemporary adaptations hold the same charm that both The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns had as movies.

Paper Towns is an incredibly funny and original film, one that Hollywood has not seen for many years. Not only is it a film in which (finally!) teenagers aren’t portrayed as the shallow, angsty people that they are stereotyped as but as people who are just as complex as adult characters.

The film won me over straight away with the friendship between Quentin, Ben and Radar. The dialogue absolutely threw me with it’s honesty between those three and that was a beautiful part that carried the film when it would have otherwise been dull. These days, the craziness and the weirdness of teenage friendships are lost somewhere along the movie production, whether it is the screenwriters not including it in the dialogue or actors playing it down. That’s one from my endless list of things that irritate me about Hollywood and I feel like it’s always a missed opportunity in any film. It was so so so refreshing to have that honest friendship and the banter that bounced between the three main guys. It’s one of the many elements that made the movie very real.

Paper Towns is a movie you can enjoy without thinking too much about it. You can go in with your popcorn and drink, watch it, enjoy it (or not, I can’t speak for everybody) and never think of it again. BUT, both the book and the movie have so much more to it if you care to think about it a little deeper. The concept of a paper town, Margo’s (somewhat glossed over) quirks, the black Santa collection and Radar and Angela’s relationship (that I enjoyed a lot more in the film). Most importantly, the concept of miracles. Paper Towns starts of with the line, “The way I figure it everyone gets a miracle. […]  My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.” By the end of the movie, we see how and in what ways that has changed as well as Quentin’s amazing character development. Everything he does in this movie comes back to that very line from the beginning. The message that putting people up on these miracle pedestals is unhealthy for all involved is what a few books and movies out there need to hear about. That exact concept of miracles and people is what I turned over in my mind for days after the film and I believe it’s something that will stay with me for some years.

I know a lot of people have mentioned the ending and so I feel like I should throw in my opinion in here too. Personally, I liked the ending. The main message of the movie was very important to me and the change of ending helped to emphasise it even more. If you really keep that message in mind, the ending is quite magnificent as well as being very unique.

As a book to movie adaptation, Paper Towns did well. In fact, I’d say it was just as good as the book and that’s in no way an insult to John Green or the book (and is also a topic for another post). The film, as a film, was wonderful, charming and hilarious – everything John Green’s books are.

Rating: [4/5]

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