I screwed up. There have been numerous occasions in which I read the novel prior to seeing the film, and everything worked out fine. In the case of Paper Towns? Not so much. I had an enjoyable experience watching the movie, but it fell a bit short of the book.
Quentin “Q” Jacobsen (Nat Wolff) has had a crush on Margo Roth Spiegelman (Carla Delevigne) since the day her family moved into the house across the street. The two became friends and had adventures like the Goonies. One time, they found a dead body, like in Stand By Me. As the pair grew older, they drifted apart. Margo became the school’s Queen Bee, while Q hung out with his friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith).
One night, Margo shows up at Q’s window asking for his help. She needs a getaway driver/accomplice, so she can exact revenge against those who have wronged her. The morning after the mission, Margo goes missing, and Q becomes determined to find her.
The film version of Paper Towns works, but the events unfolded better in the novel, but maybe that’s just me. Director Jake Schreier made a good film from the script he had to work with. John Green’s novel was adapted by Scott Neustadtler and Michael H. Weber; the same team that wrote the screen version of Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. In that screenplay, they did a great job of compressing the novel into a feature length movie. Paper Towns felt a bit rushed, but I am sure that was because I read the book, and knew all the bits that were left out. It’s as if the novel is the album version, and the movie is the radio edit.
I do not for one minute feel that Paper Towns should have been made into two movies. The running time is 109 minutes, and that should be a sufficient amount of time in which to adapt a young adult novel that is not the final entry in a series. That being said, one wonders what David Fincher could have done with Paper Towns.