- Movie Rating -

Paper Towns (2015)

| July 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

Paper Towns might be a fantastic romantic adventure if you happen to suffer from short term memory loss, that way you wouldn’t find yourself concentrating on nagging plotholes. It is is supposed to be deep and poetic, but you find yourself frustrated by nagging questions of simple logic. This is one of those movies where teenagers run all over the countryside at will without a parent in sight to, ya know, do some parenting.

Based on the book by John Green, who’s very faulty The Fault in Our Stars was an inexplicable hit last summer, Paper Towns centers on an open-faced teen named Quentin (Nat Wolff) who is just about to graduate from high school. Down the street lives Margo (Cara Delevingne) who was his childhood buddy but in the intervening years the two have drifted apart. One night Margo crawls in his window and invites him on a journey to exact revenge on several people who dun her wrong. It’s a tantalizing adventure for Quentin and he develops a crush on her.

To his surprise, Margo doesn’t show up for school for several weeks and he and his friends worry about her. Not to worry though because she’s left behind a series of cryptic clues to either her whereabouts or her well-being. Aaaand the rest of the movie is Quentin and his buddies Radar (Justice Smith), Ben (Austin Abrams) and Lacey (Halsten Sage) going from clue to clue to figure out whatever happened to her.

These kids never act like real kids, they talk and act like something out of a show on the CW. Their dialogue is either broad and jokey or deep and poetic. They do things that no kids in the history of teenagers would ever do without landing in front of a judge. That’s probably due in part to the fact that no parental figures (or cops) are anywhere around to supervise their actions. The kids crawl in windows, trespass, break in cars, and in one bizarre moment, walk right past the security guard to gain access to a high-rise in the middle of the night. Every door and window that they try is unlocked so there is never a barrier in their way.  They never trip an alarm or alert a neighbor’s dog, and no one ever calls the police.

That wouldn’t be so bad if these events were played for a horrific acts that they are. No, they’re played as light-hearted fun. Quentin climbs out his bedroom window and borrows his mother’s SUV in the middle of the night, but no one ever gets suspicious or notices that the car is gone. Even worse, she seems oddly permissive when Quentin calls to tell her that he and his friends have ditched school to take a road trip from Orlando, Florida to a podunk town in upstate New York.

What’s really galling is that there’s nothing about Margo that really seems worth all this fuss. Something in her obviously infects Quentin’s brain, as well as his heart, but we in the audience just see a girl who has mistaken having common sense for being a free-spirit. There’s really nothing special about her. She has two moments in the film when she talks about the mysteries of the future, but what she has to say is convoluted nonsense. See if you can decipher this: “All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I’ve lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters.” This is how she talks through the whole movie!

Paper Towns is one of the dumbest and most wrong-headed movies I’ve ever seen about teenagers, a movie with intentions that seem romantic but come off as horrifying. This isn’t about the lives of teenagers; it’s the shockingly light-hearted portrait of kids who commit several dozen misdemeanors all in the name of romance and free will.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2015) View IMDB Filed in: Drama