Paper Towns  (2015)    70/100

Rating :   70/100                                                                     109 Min        12A

In many ways an unlikely success as it continually threatens to career off-path but always manages to reel itself back in. Central character Quentin (Nat Wolff) has grown up with a borderline unhealthy obsession with the girl next door – Margo (Cara Delevingne), whom he was once good friends with but the vanities of high school societal status have long since removed him from. Until one eve, that is, when she elects to pop in through his bedroom window, as only hot girls in movies know how to, and instantly denigrate him to hopeless sidekick duties whilst she destroys several of the lesser beings who have slighted her recently, committing various felonies in the process and using him literally as a tool but which he thoroughly enjoys nevertheless.

Now even more obsessed with her than before he is promptly gutted to learn she’s eloped from school, until he finds she has left numerous clues for him to follow in order to discover her new location. Thus he embarks on an epic quest of undying love and truancy, enlisting the help of several of his friends in the process and experiencing a jolt of excitement and adventure in an otherwise staid existence of quiet academic success and acceptance.

Adapted from John Green’s 2008 novel of the same name for the big-screen by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (who have a long history of collaboration – having written the screenplays for ‘500 Days of Summer’ 09 and ‘The Fault in Our Stars‘ together, amongst others) and directed by Jake Schreier (‘Robot and Frank‘), the story treads a thin line between promoting, well, stupidity, and showing teenagers learning to live a little, take the initiative, and enjoy being alive whilst pursuing things that matter to them – and in the end it succeeds in the latter, with fitting support from the likes of Austin Abrams, Justice Smith and Halston Sage, playing the protagonists’ friends, and a breadcrumb trail that, like the rest of the plot, teeters on being ridiculous but eventually rings true. There’s also a cameo from Ansel Elgort (who of course starred in Green’s previous adaptation ‘The Fault in Our Stars’) during which he shows off a dragon tattoo to Sage and asks if she likes dragons, and she answers ‘no’ – is this a reference to something in the novel? Or could it be, they didn’t like my previous review? Surely not, I can’t think why that would be the case …. and yet they must know all girls love dragons, tsk tsk (It’s like with horses but with significantly more encouragement).

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