Author Nicholas Sparks may have the monopoly on the modern romantic tale, both in pulp and cinematic forms, but his sappy prose doesn’t match the wisdom and wit of John Green’s (The Fault in Our Stars) teenage tomes.
Paper Towns, Green’s current book-to-film story, proves the author’s emotional storylines translate well on the silver screen. The coming-of-age tale centers on hopeless romantic Quentin Jacobson (Nat Wolff, who memorably played Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars) who has been pining for his mythical neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevigne) since she moved across the street from his Orlando, Florida home.
As years pass the childhood friends grow apart and he becomes the typical geek next door and she becomes -- a legend in high school. A few weeks before the end of senior year, Margo rekindles the friendship by asking Quentin to be her partner in crime to exact revenge on her so-called friends for being fake. She introduces Q to “Paper Towns,” fictitious locations on a map that cartographers use to protect copyright.
After an epic night of adventure, Margo disappears. As Q observes: “Margo always loved mysteries...maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.” The film then becomes a buddy road trip to find the enigmatic Margo with his band mates Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith) and school crushes Lacey (Halston Sage) and Angela (Jaz Sinclair).
Truth be told, Paper Towns may not be as accessible to audiences as Stars was. However, it delivers a resounding emotional punch and the young actors do an incredible job of portraying the complexity of teenage angst.
Maricar Estrella, 817-390-7720
* * * *
(out of five)
Director: Jake Schreier
Rated: PG-13 (strong language, drinking, sexuality and partial nudity, all involving teens)
Running time: 109 min.