SYNOPSIS: 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.
John Green wrote the young adult mystery novel of 2008, “Paper Towns,” that this film is based on. He is also responsible for features such as “The Fault in Our Stars,” which I actually quite liked. So I went into this with high hopes, as one can imagine. How disappointed was I, you ask? Well I really did not connect with the subject matter at all, therefore, my disappointment was somewhat front and center during the whole 109 minute play-time. None of it seemed the slightest bit relatable (not even as a teenager) though I assume there is a demographic out there that can relate to some of the elements of this flick.
Let’s start with the cast: Nathaniel Wolff (The Intern, 2015) is real good, and pretty much carried the film with his cohort and new comer, Justice Smith. Super model Cara Delevingne whom I couldn’t figure out, seems quite capable (she has a role in next year’s Suicide Squad superhero action flick, according to Wikipedia.org), but did not bring her “A” game and appeared very wooden (for the lack of a better term). Granted this is one of her first movies so at least the only way is up from here.
The plot, though it revolves around this central mystery about the location of the Margo character, it just wasn’t very interesting, to say the least. For the tweens demographic, the idea of getting out of one’s comfort zone is a good lesson if dealt with in a responsible manner. But here it really is all pretty standard and presents nothing movie goers haven’t seen before. And in fact, could be misconstrued as a very misleading and malicious message for the young and vulnerable. The beginning of the movie, when Quentin and Margo are on their little mission is somewhat entertaining, but once she disappears the pace slows down to a crawl and the movie really feels like it is dragging right to the very end. We do, however, encounter some mildly unexpected outcomes that will cause one to ponder the overall message of the flick.
Worth mentioning though, and for seemingly accidental reasons, this flick will receive an enormous amount of unintended notoriety based on what one can only imagine as an incidental sequence that touches upon some major current news headlines. At the risk of giving up a spoiler here, there is a scene in the movie with a gas station pit stop somewhere in the South on the eastern board (off I95) that is sure the grab audiences’ attention. The character Radar, who is of mixed ethnicity, is regarded as needing a new T-shirt. He is then provided with one (purchased at the station) as such, by his pal. Well, it isn’t until they’re all back in the van, that he unfolds the T-shirt to discovers a humongous Confederate flag splashed across it along with the phrase statement, “Heritage Not Hate.” He laughs it off and merely turns it inside-out before putting it on. How coincidental can that be? The silence of Movie Theater is broken with audiences gasping and then rolling in to uncontrollable laughs. The scene is truly weird and uncompromising, but eventually hits the spot with all out laughter reaction from audiences.
Overall, there isn’t enough substance about this movie to warrant a visit to the theaters and I’m not even sure about it being a good rental flick. Three stars out of five would be me simply being generous because the movie is not a bad movie, but more like a movie that could have used some improvement before being released
By Movi-Man Stan
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