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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Paper Towns



"Everyone gets a miracle," Quentin (Nat Wolff), the young hero of Paper Towns muses. In his case, his miracle was getting far the hell away from Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne). Adapted from John Green's young adult novel, but less successfully than last year's moneymaking tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns follows the earnest romantic feelings Quentin has towards Margo Roth Spiegelman, or MRS, as she likes to sign things. They became next door neighbors when they were very young, and Quentin has loved her ever since, even after they grew apart as teenagers. He is a good, unadventurous student on track to becoming a doctor, a life plan which Margo Roth Spiegelman scoffed at to his face, calling it the "saddest thing [she's] ever heard." She grew into her high school's fabled, most desirable wild child, the stuff of legend and endless gossip. But she is awful.

After years of ignoring him, Margo Roth Spiegelman climbs through Quentin's bedroom window out of the blue and enlists his aid in a night of breaking and entering and vandalism, mainly because she "needs a getaway driver." She's out for revenge against her ex-boyfriend and other friends who wronged her. "We rain fire on our enemies," she proudly declares. Quentin, dazzled by her sudden attention, doesn't register that she is a sociopath. Together, they spend a long Orlando night commiting a few outright criminal acts, of which there are absolutely zero consequences. Quentin believes they've bonded again at long last. What else could it mean that they touched paint-stained index fingers like E.T. and Eliott? The next day, she ups and disappears. What happened to her? Who cares. Good riddance.

It is when Margo Roth Spiegelman vanishes that Paper Towns actually gets interesting. Quentin, however, believes himself in love and charged with a secret mission by Margo Roth Spiegelman to come and find her. Turning to a junior detective, Quentin enlists his two teenage chums, Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith), to decipher the "clues" Margo Roth Spiegelman has left behind. The friendship between the three bros, all nerds, two of whom looking forward to senior prom and possessing healthy teenage desires towards the girls at their school who aren't criminals, is believable and realistic. They even befriend Lacey (Halston Sage), Margo Roth Spiegelman's best friend and a genuinely nice person, who doesn't understand the scorn Margo Roth Spiegelman had for her before vanishing.

When Quentin figures out the secret meaning behind what "Paper Towns" are, the group of friends, along with Radar's girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair), decide to road trip to upstate New York to find Margo Roth Spiegelman. It's a fool's errand, which everyone except Quentin comes to understand after arriving at their destination with no Margo Roth Spiegelman to be found. Which is for the best, as they make returning to Orlando for the senior prom their correct priority. All except Quentin, who stays behind in the paper town to finally reunite with Margo Roth Spiegelman and come to the realization that she's the Paper Town. To its credit, Paper Towns does have its head on straight that Margo Roth Spiegelman is no dream girl, and Quentin's intended life path sans who he thought was the love of his life is the correct one after all. So all's well that ends well for Quentin. As for the dangerous, unstable Margo Roth Spiegelman, she's on her proper path: a one way trip to Belle Reve Prison and a date with the Suicide Squad.