Paper Towns Review

Paper Towns
  • Directing7
  • Writing5
  • Acting6

Paper Towns is yet another John Green novel adaptation that fails to translate to the big screen, resulting in a tedious road trip drama about finding oneself amongst the muck of the world. Jake Schreier directs with competency.


Paper Towns is the latest adaption from the novel written by John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars), directed by Jake Schreier and starring Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne. Paper Towns is a paper-thin film, filled with often-fantasized, but never fully-achieved feelings thanks to its dodgy script and probably equally hollow source material.

Quentin (Nat Wolff) has always been the safe kid on the block. He gets good grades in school and appears to have his entire life mapped out for him post-high school. He’s happy or at least he thinks so as he goes to sleep each night, looking out his window across the way at his neighbor Margo’s (Cara Delevingne) room.

Margo and Quentin were childhood friends, but since then have both gone their separate ways. Quentin sticks to remaining mostly unknown to the rest of his classmates, while Margo continuously lives out an adventurous life, full of wacky thoughts and even weirder rumors.

The two couldn’t be any more different, until one night Margo shows up in Quentin’s room asking to borrow his mom’s car, while also hoping that he’ll join in on her evening’s debauchery.

Quentin accepts and from that point gets thrown into a whole new world as he finally starts taking some risks and living his life on looser terms with the chance for surprises and excitement.

Jake Schreier‘s Paper Towns is an interesting film that struggles coming to life thanks to a script that spends far too much time rambling versus discovering. I haven’t read the John Green novel that the film is based upon, but seeing as how Green is listed as one of the writers on the film I choose to believe that this film might have been screwed from the beginning.

Schreier’s direction is admirable, initially covering exterior nightlife shots of Orlando in a way that glows, yet almost feels ghostly. He also manages to make Quentin’s boring life feel like something that you want to watch unfold and grow, which is no easy task.

But the film’s characters feel like stereotypical oddballs that are forced into squared roles and it gives off confusing vibes as Green’s characters never feel truly alive and instead like “cool” ideas of people that existed in high school, but with slight changes. It’s hard to explain, but it keeps the film floating further and further away from reality.

It also hurts seeing Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne attempt to spark magic, but ending up with dull matches. The two just never seem to share any sort of on-screen chemistry at all, which makes their characters feel all the more forced into something that doesn’t work.

Quentin is a nice kid, while Margo is simply a dick and not at one point do you ever want to actually see the two of them end up together.

Again, I feel like this all comes back to Green’s script and perhaps novel, especially by the film’s ending, which is complete garbage. It pokes at the idea that one doesn’t need to go searching everywhere for themselves or even for happiness, but to instead look right in front of them and learn to appreciate and realize that the happiness was there all along.

It may sound like a nifty full circle, but the way the film sums that all up makes for one giant waste of time (and gas money) on a road trip film that should’ve never left the station to begin with.

Paper Towns is yet another failure on the young teen novel adaptation front. Its indie feel and mostly unknown cast may give it early charm, but the film’s mucked up story never finds itself in proper care, resulting in a film that is as paper-thin as its Paper Towns title.

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