Movie Review: Paper Towns


Following the success of box-office hit The Fault in Our Stars, we assume the adaptation of John Green’s Paper Towns to be yet another tearjerker. However, Paper Towns is (almost) everything that The Fault In Our Stars isn’t: there is absolutely nothing to cry about. But in typical John Green fashion, it features a thought-provoking plot that is grossly sentimental.


Directed by Jake Schreier, the film explores how Quentin Jacobsen (Nat Wolff) meets girl-next-door Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne) when they were young and them drifting apart as Margo becomes popular in high school. Unlike the girl of his dreams, Quentin is a socially inept and studious 18-year-old young lad who holds great plans for his future and only hangs around Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith), 2 equally nerdy friends from school.


Describing Margo as a “miracle”, Quentin never had a chance to get close with Margo after her knack for adventures made her the enigmatic character she is. But on the night where he finally talks himself out of chasing her, Margo appears at his bedroom window to convince him to be her partner-in-crime for the night. Hesitantly obliging, they embark on an unforgettable adventure of rebellion and revenge.

“I’ve lived here for 18 years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters,” Margo says with a regrettable frown as she looks at the scenic view of their town after their mischief.

At the break of dawn, Margo disappears, just when Quentin thinks he could be acquainted with her again and leaves behind clues to her whereabouts. And of course Quentin pieces them together and goes on a literal and metaphorical chase after Margo, hoping she would be waiting for him in a fictional “paper town”. The clues revolve around on the play of this cartographic term, where “Paper Town” refers to a fictitious location used to prevent copyright infringements.


The best part of the film is the hunt itself, where his pals play a pivotal role in the plot’s progression. Skipping classes to join our protagonist on a 22-hour drive to a dingy New York town, they only give 1 condition: make it back in time for their graduation prom.

Along with the sense of urgency, which sets the plot into motion, the film captivates the audience with a few good laughs. A couple of memorable ones include Ben relieving himself into 2 empty cans en route (and spilling them all over Radar), and when they adorably break out into the Pokémon theme song in an eerily abandoned souvenir shop.


It’ll be disappointing for some to know that Delevingne only appears in the beginning and ending of the film so Wolff helms the majority of the screen-time. It’s frustrating, especially since Delevingne’s amazing portrayal of the reticent character leaves us wanting more.


What’s truly intriguing about the message of the film is its concept of misguidedness in love. Quentin has unknowingly placed Margo on a pedestal and is blinded by his feelings for her that he disregarded the fact that humans are imperfect. It was only when he has found her that he realises how he has been looking for the ‘wrong person’ all along.

If you’re not entirely fond of The Fault in Our Stars, you may not enjoy Paper Towns because there’s an uncanny resemblance in the way the romance was played out in both films – Boy/Girl meets opposite partner shrouded in mystery and plagued with an issue (read: sickness or abandonment).

However, Paper Towns is definitely not as sappy and morbid (to put it bluntly) and in fact, it’s a well-balanced fare of cheesy adolescent romance topped with some chuckle-some comedy bits and indie cinematography to boot.


[xrr rating=4/5 display_as=textstars label=”Our Rating:”]

Tell us what you think of Paper Towns in the comments section below!

Photos Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox



Release Date: 23 July 2015

Runtime: 108 minutes

Language: English

Censorship Rating: PG13

Genre: Drama

Director: Jake Schreier

Main Actors: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Justice Smith, Austin Abrams