Paper Towns (discussion with spoilers)

Nat Wolff and Cara Delevigne were well cast as the leads in Paper Towns. As for the supporting actors: Halston Sage was a standout as Lacey: the beauty with a brain (she’s going to Dartmouth). Unlike in the novel by John Green, Radar’s girlfriend Angela tagged along on the road trip. In the movie, Angela was played by Jaz Sinclair, and I wish she had even more to do in the film.

Paper Towns is Quentin “Q” Jacobsen’s (Wolff) story. More specifically: it’s about Q’s obsession with Margo Roth Spiegelman (Delevigne). In the book, Q spends the middle third (second act?) searching for clues about Margo after she went missing. That happens in the movie as well, but a lot of the dead ends were left out. I can understand that, since it would require the filmmakers to search for unfinished subdivisions where they could shoot the scenes. Most of Q’s investigation in the movie took place at the abandoned souvenir shop, but a lot of stuff that took place there in the book was left out. In the novel, Q was on the verge of going full James Stewart from Vertigo. I can understand why a lot of this section was left out of the movie; the longer Q looked for clues, the longer the wait until Cara Delevigne came back on screen.

In some ways, Margo reminds me of Amy from Gone Girl. Margo is one hundred percent less murderous than Amy; which is good thing. Both are perceptive about society. I can even imagine Margo reciting Amy’s “cool girl” monologue. Each is more than willing to involve guys who have crushes on them, so that they can carry out their nefarious plots. And neither one has a boyfriend/husband that’s worth a damn.

It’s possible to argue that Margo is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I think she is far less manic, and far more borderline personality disorder. At the very least, she is a narcissist; which is another thing she has in common with Amy.

One of the things I liked most about Paper Towns was when Margo called out Q on his bullshit. He, like everyone else in Margo’s life, projected a false image onto her. I am sure some of us have done something similar.

To be fair, many of us has known someone like Margo, be they female or male. That certain someone who uses their considerable charms to get into anywhere, and out of anything. We presume they lead these amazing lives, while never thinking about them as actual people with problems.

In the novel, the whole gang (minus Angela, of course) finds Margo at the barn. Margo lets everyone of them feel her wrath, for one reason or another. The film sees everyone but Q heading back to Florida, so he is the only one to get an ear full. But it’s far more subdued than in the book. Each version has its merits, but if I had to guess, the scene was toned down in the movie so that Margo would seem less unlikable.

The reason Q was left behind in the movie was so the rest of the gang could make it back in time for prom. In the book, the road trip took place just prior to graduation. This is another example of how the time span of the novel was compressed for the film. It’s also another example of the importance of prom in teen movies.

Paper Towns is set in the fictional Orlando suburb of Jefferson Park, but the film was shot in and around Charlotte. I’m taking a shot in the dark, but I’m willing to bet Jefferson Park is really Winter Park. If the film had been made in Winter Park, there almost certainly would have been a glimpse of the infamous Booby Trap. The Booby Trap is gone now–it was torn down earlier this year. That’s kind of sad, I guess. Or maybe not.


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