Paper Towns: Utterly Two-Dimensional

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Prompted by the buzz surrounding Cara Delevingne turning her hand (and eyebrows) to acting, I decided to buy a ticket to Paper Towns and see for myself what all the fuss was about.

Turns out, it was a fuss about nothing.

The latest offering in the non-stop production line of supposedly ‘profound’ Young Adult films, Paper Towns falls flat. On its own, the plot has merit and could quite easily be genuinely interesting; it is the characters that let the film down.

One of the major character faults is that they all fall into stereotypical high school categories from a bad John Hughes film, with the added twist of the unbearably self-obsessed manic-pixie-dream-girl Margo (Delevingne) who, despite being one of the lead roles, isn’t actually on screen for much of the film. Margo is unbearably irritating, leaving town without a word, pausing only to perpetuate her I’msokookyandmysterious persona: leaving little clues as to her whereabouts.

The main premise of the film is the deciphering of the clues and consequent search for Margo after her sudden disappearance, and the road trip that combines the group: Quentin, Ben, Radar, his girlfriend, and Lacey, Margo’s best friend. The car scenes are some of the most enjoyable in the film, and produce some funny moments from forcing the different cliques together. This results in geeky Ben being asked to Prom by gorgeous Lacey. Of course. Because it’s a YA film and those are the rules.

One thing that can be said for this film is that the writers have absolutely nailed how friends light-heartedly wind each other up. The scenes between Quentin (Nat Wolff), Ben (Austin Abrams), and Radar (Justice Smith) are the most believable of the film. These are the parts where their characters come to life – if only for a second – before they return to their usual state of blank-eyed blandness. Although, if teens were as profound and intense as John Green and his writing team makes them sound in this film, we’d be living in a world of Jaden Smiths (seriously, check his twitter – it’s hilarious.)

When Quentin eventually finds Margo and confesses his undying love, she (quite refreshingly for a teen film) lets him down gently. Lovely. Something that defies the stereotype. Oh no, wait a minute; they have a dramatic kiss as he leaves her forever anyway. Just why? She made it clear she isn’t romantically interested in him, so why does there need to be a kiss?

Ah, I forgot, it’s a YA film: the lead characters must always have an intense romantic kiss. Silly me.

Overall, it feels like a mash up of every mediocre high school film you’ve ever seen, just less funny and more try-hard.

Don’t waste your cinema ticket. Go see something else instead.

Hannah Tomes

Image: 20th Century Fox

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