“Paper Towns” is a fun little coming-of-age
story that is lighthearted, witty, focused, and takes you right back to
your own halcyon teenage days. But
don’t put too much weight on it; it’s just paper.
A “Paper Town” is the name for the little towns
that are invented by mapmakers in order to catch somebody illegally
copying their product. Make
up a name, stick it somewhere in upstate New York, and see if it
Margo (Cara Delevingne) is the cute girl across the
street who moved in when she was seven years old, and soon she and
Quentin (Nat Wolff) were childhood buddies, riding their bikes
everywhere and just enjoying being the same age in the same
remembers those day with great fondness, but as Margo has gotten older,
things have changed. First,
it was her spirit of adventure---she was always ready to sneak off in
the middle of the night and go somewhere with a lock on the gate.
Quentin was by nature cautious, but occasionally she could talk
him into stretching his comfort zone with her.
The years pass, and they kind of naturally develop
other friends. Margo is
riding with the wild crowd as a teenager; Quentin has two best buddies,
Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith).
They’re band nerds who hang out in the music practice room and
talk about girls, but they’re mostly socially awkward.
Radar actually has a girlfriend, Angela (Jaz Sinclair),but he
treats her with kid gloves because he’s afraid of losing her.
Ben has a crush on Lacey (Halston Sage), and solemnly swears that
the one time she talked to him they “made a connection,” which the
other boys, of course, make fun of, but their lively banter is never
Quentin still has a crush on Margo, but she seems
pretty unapproachable, having a boyfriend and all, so Quentin just
concentrates on making good grades, getting accepted into Duke, and
planning to go to medical school and become an oncologist.
He knows he’ll have to work hard and not do something stupid.
Then one night Margo crawls into his bedroom window and invites
him to go do something stupid with her.
And Quentin just can’t help but go with her for a night of
mischief and pranks.
But in spite of the risk, or maybe because of it,
Quentin is having the time of his life.
He’s outside his comfort zone, and it feels exhilarating.
But the next day Margo disappears, and both her parents and the
police detective are questioning him, because he seemed to be the last
one to be with her before her disappearance.
Now Quentin really is distracted, and is determined
to find Margo, sleuthing the clues that she’s left behind in her room
(after Quentin bribes the little sister to let him in to investigate).
Quentin decides that Margo has gone to a “paper town” in
upstate New York, which is a long way from Orlando, but Quentin is so
determined to go find her that he recruits not only his two best buds,
Ben and Radar, but Lacey, as Margo’s best friend, insists on coming
along, also, as does Angela, who’s more down-to-earth than Radar ever
So now we have a coming-of-age road trip, where they
have a vague destination, but really, it’s about being together along
the way, and just enjoying each other’s company, in a situation
virtually devoid of adult influence.
Sure, they’ll all soon go to the Senior Prom and graduate, but
right now, they’re experiencing a little bit of freedom for the first
time, and it’s exciting.
No, true love doesn’t necessarily conquer all.
But personal loyalty counts for something. And so does having a
few perspective-changing experiences that helps you to figure out not
only who everybody else is, but also
who you are.