Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Paper Towns": coming-of-age road comedy with perfect kids


Paper Towns” (2015, directed by Jake Schreier) is a coming-of-age comedy, based on the novel penned by John Green (“The Fault in our Stars”), somewhat in the vein of popular series ten years ago, like “Smallville”, “Everwood”, “One Tree Hill”.  Nat Wolff plays Quetin the perfect kid, high school senior in every AP course (almost patterned after a combination of both Andraka brothers), by haunted by a hit or miss girl friend from his own childhood, Margo (Carla Delevinge).
   
The story is set in Orlando FL, and that’s significant. But most of the outdoor scenes appear shot in a Florida late fall (which autumn colors), which doesn’t match senior prom time.  I was just in Orlando myself (picture above from Saturday night street festival).
   
One night, she sneaks into his room through an open window, and coaxes him to accompany her on a wild escapade of breaking-and-entering pranks.  For example, Quentin actually puts some Nair on a sleeping football player’s eyebrow.  Then, she disappears.  Quentin becomes obsessed with finding the girl who got him to break his own perfect eggshell.  

At the end, Quentin will learn that his idea of Margo had been his own fantasy.  Or was it?  Are some people really angels?  I had a hard time believing that someone as wholesome as Quentin really would do some of the stunts when she leads him around early in the movie. 
    
This leads to a typical road comedy with his buddies (Austin Abrams and Justice Smith), as they follow some treasure hunt-style clues and then drive 1200 miles north to a “paper town” in New York State to find Margo. They have to get back in time for the prom.

A “paper town”, by the way, is a fictitious town put on a map by cartographers during medieval times tying to catch people with copyright infringement.

Now some of the urgency in the screenwriting is a bit artificial, but it seems dictated by Hollywood convention. 

Before the movie starts (even before the Fox fanfare), John Green gives what amounts to an anti-piracy speech, noting how many jobs are supported by making the film.  I wonder how many jobs could be created by “Do Ask, Do Tell”.

Ansel Elgort makes an uncredited cameo as a convenience store clerk.  He could lose the tattoo.
The credits say that the film was shot also in North Carolina (with UNC?), Malibu, and New York State as well as Orlando.


The official site is here.
  

I saw the film at the AMC Courthouse in Arlington VA on a Sunday night.  I left to find police activity in the parking lot, with a major bust blocking my car for over an hour.  

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