Paper Towns, adapted from the young adult novel by John Green and directed by Jake Schreier, is a very pedestrian, run-of-the-mill teen mystery/comedy that transplants Cara Delevingne into the stereotypical world of an American high school.
Quentin (Nat Wolff) has been smitten with Margo (Delevingne) ever since her family moved into the neighbourhood when they were both kids. Having since grown apart, the high school seniors are brought back together once more in Margo’s plot to exact revenge on those who have wronged her. The carefree night of exhilaration is undoubtedly the first of its kind in Quentin’s life. The next day, however, Margo disappears, leaving only a trail of cryptic clues – seemingly meant for Quentin – as to her whereabouts. With the help of his misfit friends, Quentin embarks on a quest to reunite with his lifelong crush, a journey that offers him many of the experiences he missed out on during high school.
For what is meant to be a light-hearted coming-of-age tale, Paper Towns takes itself a bit too seriously in its attempts at depth. There are far too many uncomfortable slow-motion shots, and although the film gets teen awkwardness down to a tee, most of the instances that are meant to be humorous are embarrassingly unfunny. The movie features all the typical teen movie tropes (the popular crowd, band geeks and prom) in extremely watered-down forms, therefore framing the already stale narrative with unmemorable characters and plot points.
Wolff gives a sincere performance worthy of applause, and Delevingne’s American accent is, surprisingly, not too bad. The resolution between Quentin and Margo doesn’t follow other predictable teen formulas, so at least the audience is spared a great deal of corniness. The best component is the film’s music, a compilation of tracks from artists such as Bon Iver and Bob Dylan (even though neither is found on the soundtrack).
Paper Towns might be worth a watch, but any memory of it will dissipate not long after. Clocking in at 109 minutes, the shallow transition story drags in some moments, and any lack of cringing may simply be down to this humdrum teen flick being devoid of any substance. Avoid disappointment by expecting a movie that would somewhat interest a 13-year-old girl, rather than a funny movie with which most people would be able to identify.
Paper Towns is released nationwide on 17th August 2015.
Watch the trailer for Paper Towns here: