In “Paper Towns,” Nat Wolff plays Quentin, a high school student who is nearing the end of his senior year. As he goes through with his day-to-day routine of going to school, he still hopes to reconnect with his childhood friend Margo (Delevigne), a girl next door who has become one of the popular kids.
Quentin eventually gets his chance to spend time with Margo, who invites him out for a night of mischief. To his surprise, though, the next day Quentin finds out that Margo has gone off the grid and has seemingly disappeared. The vanishing sets Quentin, with the help of his friends, off on a road trip/adventure to find clues as to where Margo is.
“Towns” is a high school dramedy that does from time to time go into some of the staples of its genre, but what helps raise the bar are two important aspects. The first is the story’s focus on its mystery element and the second is the great level of friendship displayed by the characters involved.
The mystery, which eventually becomes somewhat of a road trip, leads to interesting developments which allows the movie as a whole to break away from the cliches. This feature makes the movie’s stakes seem higher and the whole picture becomes more compelling because of it.
As previously noted, the other facet which strengthens the film was the friendship between the main characters. Wolff, along with the supporting cast members Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halston Sage and Jaz Sinclair have a believable chemistry as well as camaraderie which translates into captivating character arcs.
It doesn’t mean that each of their individual performances are without their flaws. There were scenes that didn’t always work, however, the movie still functions. It more or less boils down to the phrase of being stronger together than apart.
While the acting from these (younger) performers wasn’t always hitting it out of the park, their interactions still felt realistic and in a coming of age/high school movie, that is tremendously important.
Despite not having as much screen time because of the mystery, Cara Delevingne brings exactly what her character needs. Margo is supposed to be a secretive, unpredictable character who doesn’t act like the average high school student, and Delevingne pulls it off.
There are definitely some cliches in “Paper Towns” and some of the acting was a little weak at points, but the movie still pulls a lot of stuff off well. The friendship between the characters feels real and that transcends onto the audience and the mystery/finding clues aspect can help keep people guessing as to what’s going to happen next.
Everything comes together for a coming of age story with a solid message and some fun along the way which is what high school movies are all about. Will it be remembered as an all time great and/or game changer in the genre? Maybe not, but there’s no doubt that it’s a good time at the theater. 3 out of 5.