Based on John Green’s uplifting novel about a conscientious teen who learns to live in the now, Paper Towns is an entertaining lesson in opportunity grabbing.
Cara Delavingne Paper Towns

It’s hardly surprising that this crossover between romance, mystery and road movie is more fun than last year’s Green adaptation, weepy teen cancer drama The Fault In Our Stars. What Paper Towns shares is a similar wish to inspire.

It’s hampered by a false start from director Jake Schreier (Robot & Frank) who adopts a faux-Wes Anderson whimsy. An over-imaginative voiceover from high-schooler Quentin (Nat Wolff) introduces his childhood friend Margo (Cara Delevingne) as a bold adventuress, a former circus act and amateur detective. The capable performance of ‘it girl’ Delevingne can’t make this romantic fancy ring true and Margo’s swift disappearance from Quentin’s home town mercifully opens a more sincere chapter in Schreier’s film.

Following Margo’s clues, Quentin hits the road with friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith). The trio are softened stereotypes, familiar to anyone who’s seen American Pie or The Inbetweeners, but the ordinary high-school experience at the heart of Green’s novel remains in tact. Adapting the author for a second time, Scott Neustadter (500 Days Of Summer) integrates the novel’s charm and finest turns of phrase ensuring Paper Towns punches above its weight. Everything from the compact size of Quentin’s comfort zone to Margo’s idealistic positivity remind us to enjoy the moment: something Paper Towns’ light comedy and genuine performances make easy.

In an ironic but predictable development, Hollywood has already seized the day: another Green adaptation is in the pipeline.

 

VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ 4/5

 

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 109 minutes
Images: © 2015 – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
UK release date: 11 September 2015

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