Quentin (Nat Wolff) is about to graduate high school and go off to college, presumably forever leaving behind his best friends, his home and the only life he’s known. The same can be said of his longtime crush, the enigmatic girl next door Margo (Cara Delevingne).
A week before prom, Margo and Quentin spend the night extracting revenge on Margo’s now ex-boyfriend as well as her friends. He has been cheating on her and they knew it was happening, yet did nothing. The next day, Margo vanishes but leaves behind clues that Quentin solves.
Despite his concerns about missing school and his distaste for whacky adventures, Quentin and his friends drive from Florida to New York to find Margo. During the first and finest road trip of their young lives, Quentin begins to discover the truth and meaning of love, friendship and imagining people complexly.
We say, “You can’t love what you don’t know.”
TAYLOR: Paper Towns is based on the novel of the same name, written by John Green, who penned The Fault in our Stars, which became a huge hit movie last year. Green writes stories for young adults that are worth reading and have a depth to them not often explored by other young adult authors. Paper Towns seems to be about a misdirected expectation turning into an unrequited love that, at the very least, allows for our young characters to learn something about life. While it’s true that all philosophical investigations ultimately end at the vast ocean of personal responsibility, I fear in Paper Towns audiences might misinterpret this age-old message: You can worry about life, or you can live it. You can spend your moments agonizingly scrutinizing, or dancing with the people you love. Don’t you wonder if modern kids will think this is a movie about a guy who only wastes time?
HOWE: Quentin is a teenager wasting his time. Just like I did for an hour and a half at this piece of tripe. Paper Towns is paper thin. The story is weak and the acting is so wooden it’s a good job there’s a fire ban on at the moment, because it would catch light quickly.
I can’t believe that this is written by the same author who wrote TFIOS. Where in Fault you had a strong relationship between the two characters, in this it’s a little one-sided, with Quentin trying to track down his love interest. The thing is, she ran away for a reason. Now you have a crazy, lovestruck stalker travelling across the States to tell Margo he’s in love with her. I wasn’t impressed.
TAYLOR: “Crazy” is a bit much, but I agree that there’s not a lot of story here. However, there are funny conversations amongst Quentin and his friends.
The film moves at a snappy pace, at no point was I bored. I had prepared myself to be disappointed by the reasons Margo disappears, then I was. I didn’t expect a sappy Hollywood ending, but I expected something. Without exploring the film’s thematic depth, we are left with: Boy meets girl, boy chases girl for a long time to no avail, life goes on. That, in and of itself, is cause for concern in modern cinema, so I reward an extra half point for bravery.
— Taylor gives Paper Towns 3 atlases out of 5.
— Howe gives it 1.5 album covers out of 5.