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    Paper Towns Now Playing at Sayville Cinemas!
    August 4, 2015 9:59 am  
    Paper Towns Now Playing at Sayville Cinemas!

    by Liam Haber

    Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of Paper Towns, there is one thing I can say about it that isn’t surprising. Paper Towns is very predictable, until it isn’t. There is no plot twist really, and the movie is similar in its execution and style to The Fault in Our Stars, unsurprising since both are based on novels by the author John Green. In Paper Towns, you can see almost every twist and plot point coming, and there aren’t many moving pieces. It is really the perfect summer romance, and I imagine teens will flock to the theaters to see it. If only the movie was any good.

    Paper Towns opens with awkward high schooler Q (Nat Wolff, The Fault in Our Stars) going on a mission with his mysterious, attractive neighbor Margo (Cara Delevingne) asking him to get revenge with her on her former friends and boyfriends who have done bad by her. After a night of fun and craziness, she says goodnight and like a female Peter Pan, she disappears through the window just as quickly as she appears. And she really does disappear, not returning home and leaving her town behind, less than a week before prom and graduation. The now lovestruck Q plans to track her down using the clues that she has left behind in her own disappearance.

    I can’t get into most of the plot without spoiling much of the movie, so I’ll leave it at this: the story here works much better as a book than as a movie. The characters aren’t translated too well, and they are more easily fleshed out in 300 pages than in 90 minutes. The trashy, poorly developed script is from Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who are responsible for two movies that are essentially better versions of Paper Towns. In 2009 they made (500) Days of Summer and in 2013 The Spectacular Now, both of which feature male leads who fall head over heels for a smart, creative, shallow girl who exists only in the mind of writers and never in reality. I’ve mentioned this concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl before, and Margo is the textbook definition of that character. One of the most famous recent examples might be a slight inversion of it in The Fault in Our Stars, where there is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy instead. And I feel I should mention that that script is also from Neustadter and Weber.

    The direction of this movie is basic and sophomoric, nothing special for a movie like this. The only thing this movie has going for it at all is that the cast is well more than decent. Wolff and Delevingne have good chemistry and actually play off of each other well, which works in the movies favor. Both of them have a star making quality to them, and I imagine they will go on to greener pastures in the future. But the true relationship of this movie is that between Q and his friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith). I related to characteristics of each of the three, and saw too many similarities with my own friends in that movie. There is a particular highlight when they sing a song together that had me laughing.

    The movie could deal with a lot of improvements. But because of the cast, it almost works well enough, and some of the humor hits well and hits hard. This is not a great movie by any means, and it was almost more fun to mock it with my friends than to watch. But this sadly is a failed attempt at a well-worn concept. I had hoped this would have been better actually, partly because I enjoyed the book and partly because I liked the cast. But instead, all we have is an odd and somewhat boring attempt to change the typical teen romance. This might be the movie for you and it might not. I’ll put it this way: if you liked The Fault in Our Stars, you’ll like Paper Towns. And I did not like The Fault in Our Stars.

    Liam’s Rating: 2/5 Stars

    Paper Towns. Directed by Jake Scheier. Starring Nat Wolff & Cara Delevingne. Rated PG-13. 1hr 49min. Now Playing at Sayville Cinemas!

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