Cara Delevingne in Paper Towns
George Pimentel/ Getty Images
Paper Towns is so cheesy and over-the-top, you would think it was a 17-year-old or 18-year-old’s opus. That relatability is what teens love about John Green’s writing…. he’s become their John Hughes. Watching the movie, you can immediately suss out moments that will become Tumblr memes, yearbook quotes and Instagram captions for this generation. That’s the point. In that sense, the film delivers. But while The Fault in Our Stars made you cry, for those of you who are not of the Instagram generation, this most recent John Green adaptation will make you roll your eyes.
Nat Wolff plays Quentin, a nebbishy over-achiever whose estranged childhood best friend Margo (Cara Delevingne) prefers mischief and intellectualism over academics. Naturally, he’s in love with her. But she’s the type of high school “cool girl” who is worshipped by all, and dresses up as Amelia Earhart for Hallowe’en… in a crop top. Oh, and her idea of pleasure reading involves Walt Whitman. I know.
After a breakup, Margo reconnects with Quentin for one night of mischief. Soon after, she disappears. Q and an eclectic troupe of friends follow the trail of clues she’s left behind and set out on a road trip to New York state to bring her home. Aside from finding Margo, the only rules for the coming-of-age road trip is that the teens make it back to their hometown in Orlando in time for Prom. You can’t miss Prom!!!
But will Quentin learn how to live in the now, like Margo “does”?
Will his best friend get a date to the Prom?
Will he and his boys overcome their fears by reminiscing with a childhood theme song?
Will they all stay best friends after high school?
When will Quentin finally break out of his shell?
So many burning questions!
Paper Towns is charming, yet it tries (way) too hard to be “deep.” If you have a high tolerance for that, the movie’s definitely worth seeing.
Or you could see it for Cara. She plays a perfect Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Who wouldn’t be in love with somebody that “mysterious”? Her American accent is flawless, but her emoting leaves something to be desired. That’s intentional, right? For Margo to be that aloof? Anyway. Cara delivers, but it’s impossible to watch Paper Towns without thinking about Garden State and one of the original Manic Pixie Dream Girls, Natalie Portman.
When Garden State first came out, I was 17. I saw it, fell in love with Natalie’s character, was enchanted by the movie’s Jewish themes, and Zach Braff was my ideal man. I went on to see it three times in theatres and I couldn’t live without the soundtrack… which later won Zach Braff a Grammy.
Nearly 11 years later, I still have nostalgic pangs and appreciation for Garden State, but have grown out of the obsessive love I had for it back in 2004.
I can see Paper Towns having that Garden State effect on today’s teens. Coincidentally, John Green whisperer Nat Wolff has a song on the Paper Towns soundtrack with his brother Alex. Having said that, it wouldn’t surprise me if today’s teens grew out of it in 10 or 11 years… as it is far from The Breakfast Club.
Attached – Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne in Toronto last night. (Lainey: I am OBSESSED WITH HER SHOES.)