Actors: Nat Wolff, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith
Director: Jake Schreier
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (Unknown), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Dubbed: French, Spanish
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20TH CENTURY FOX
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Run Time: 109 minutes
This is clearly a film made to be appreciated by young adults alone, and this is apparent by the ultimate message that the worst thing a teenager can be is responsible. Paper Towns actually reminds me a great deal of Juno, another film where pretentious hipster behavior is embraced as superior. Thankfully, unlike Juno, that judgmental representation of pretentious behavior is not found in the protagonist of the narrative. Whether it is me showing my age through my preferences, a poor adaptation of the original text, the failures of model Cara Delevingne as an actor, or a combination of all, less time spent with the character of Margo makes it easier to appreciate Paper Towns.
The story is fairly unremarkable beyond the fact that it is based upon a best-selling novel by author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars), who essentially seems to be reusing the same themes from his melodrama in a comedic and lighthearted narrative. We start with a typical ‘girl-next-door’ coming-of-age narrative, with Quentin (Nat Wolff) pining over the popular pretty girl living in the house across the street. But Margo isn’t just attractive, she also has a personality filled with enigmatically mysterious personality traits that are basically just immaturity and contrived quirkiness once actually revealed.
But perhaps I’m showing my age again. And I also find it difficult to separate the celebrity from the performance in this case. I found the acting from a model who is best known for performances in music videos and her nightlife with the Kardashians to be far from convincing as an average teenager. As for the attempt to make her seem like more than the average teenager within the narrative, Margo’s petty need for revenge when cheated on by her popular high school boyfriend quickly lands her in the category of typical teen. The only behavior by Margo which is out of the ordinary ends up being merely selfish rather than endearing.
Though she is not around for much of the film (thankfully), Margo is central to the narrative because of Quentin’s obsession with her, especially after they spend one night of debauchery together before she disappears. Her disappearance is the mystery at the core of the narrative, though the film actually begins to work when it becomes about something more than the search for Margo, even if that means devolving into a predictable road trip narrative. Believable supporting characters (and believably teenage actors, not models) save the middle of the film from Margo and Delevingne, not to mention the over-written voiceover by Quentin. Wolff does a decent job carrying the film as an everyday teenager, but his voiceover narration sounds like a high school student forced to read aloud in class from a book above his grade level.
The Blu-ray release comes with a DVD and digital copy of the film, as well as a handful of extras, most of which are directed at the same age level as the film. There is a generic making-of featurette and a few random interviews, but the majority of worthwhile special features seem to come in the form of additional footage. There are deleted and alternate scenes, on top of a gag reel.
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 3/10