Paper Towns is a coming of age story by John Green. It’s about finding out who you are and being true to yourself. It’s also about realizing that you can’t expect others to be exactly like you and understanding that you have to distinguish who you think someone is from who that person really is. It’s getting used to the idea that a person is three-dimensional and complex and they aren’t these two dimensional paper people that we have in our heads. In the trailers (and at the beginning of the movie), Quentin Jacobsen (aka Q, the main character and narrator) says that Margo Roth Spiegleman is his miracle. Margo goes on to be this huge myth and legend in her little community. Everyone thinks they know Margo when they really don’t. Q later revises his statement when he realizes that Margo isn’t a miracle; she’s just a girl trying to figure out who she is when she’s not being the legendary Margo Roth Spiegelman.
Paper Towns is a complex story with a complex theme considering it’s a young adult book. It’s definitely in my top ten YA books. I not only recommend reading the book (no matter your age), I also recommend watching the movie.
Overall, I thought it was a fantastic movie. From a cinematic point of view, I thought it was well paced and well edited. I did feel some transitions weren’t as smooth as they could be, but it didn’t take away from the movie itself. The acting was spot on. Nat Wolff (Quentin “Q” Jacobsen) and Cara Delevingne (Margo Roth Spiegelman) completely stole the show for me, but Austin Abrams (Ben Starling), Justice Smith (Marcus “Radar”), Halston Sage (Lacey Pemberton), and Jaz Sinclair (Angela) really seemed to understand their characters and pulled off spectacular performances. I thought the actors really played off each other well, and their interactions were very entertaining to watch. I really feel like anyone could really get into this story based on the movie alone, so if you haven’t read Paper Towns, the movie is still worth watching.
As an adaptation, I thought it was brilliant. John Green made an excellent point in one of his Vlogbrothers videos when he said that the adaptation was going to be different from the book but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t true to the story or the themes or that it was inherently bad. Movies are a different medium, and I thought that the screenwriter and the director did a really good job in taking the story and making it work on screen. I won’t get into all of the changes yet because spoilers, but I will say that any changes made to the story weren’t huge and they didn’t take away from the essential plot or themes of the book. So have no fear, the director, screenwriter, and producers did not butcher this one. They understood and respected the story, and they made a movie that’s definitely worth watching.
Click on the Read More to read about the changes to the story and where the elusive John Green cameo is (as well as a very special and unexpected cameo). SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Let me start off by saying that I completely missed John’s cameo. I had to look up where it was after the movie. So to save you the trouble, John is the voice of Becca’s father. You hear him when Q and Margo are running away from Becca’s house after leaving a fish in her closet. Apparently, it’s easier to catch if you sit on the left side of the theater. Don’t feel bad if you miss it because John’s wife missed it too.
Ansel Elgort makes an appearance as the cashier at the gas station. I nearly died from a fangirl fit when I saw him.
On to the changes!
- Margo only has 9 things to do on her big night of revenge. In the book, she has 11.
- Margo and Q do not go to Sea World. This was cut because of the bad press and reputation that Sea World has had in the last few years. The things that happen at Sea World now happen in the Sun Trust building.
- Q doesn’t have to remove his door from the hinges to get Margo’s message to him.
- Angela joins everyone on the road trip. She and Radar have sex while they wait for help after the whole cow on the highway debacle.
- They don’t find Margo at the Agloe General Store. Q tells his friends to leave without him because he’s going to wait for Margo. They leave so they can make it back to get ready for prom.
- Margo isn’t pissed at Q for finding her. She’s just surprised and confused. She and Q have their conversation over milkshakes at a diner in Roscoe. Not in a field in Agloe.
- Margo doesn’t bury her little black notebook.
- Q says goodbye to Margo in front of a bus that will take him back to Orlando. Not by her car at a motel. Their kiss is magical.
- Q meets up with his friends at prom and dances like a total dork.
- Q, Ben and Radar meet up at the end of the movie. Radar gives Ben and Q a black Santa to remember him by. They each drive away from each other to symbolize their going away to college and all that growing up stuff.
Like I said, none of the changes affect the central plot. I highly recommend watching the movie.
Thanks for reading!