PAPER TOWNS – Review by Susan Granger

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Following “The Fault in Our Stars,” this is the second screen adaptation of a John Green novel for Young Adults – and a bit of a disappointment in comparison with the first. Quentin “Q” Jacobsen (Nat Wolff) has been infatuated by Margo Roth Spiegelman (Brit supermodel Cara Delevingne), ever since her family moved in across the street when he was nine years-old. By they get to high school, eccentric Margo has her own cool clique, barely acknowledging geeky Q in the corridor. Read on…

Then, one night, near the end of their senior year, Margo crawls into his bedroom window, asking him to drive her around their hometown of Orlando, Florida, to wreak revenge on friends who have betrayed her. After that exhilarating escapade, rebellious Margo mysteriously disappears.

Enlisting two nerdy buddies – Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith) – Q is determined to find Margo, who conveniently leaves clues to her whereabouts. Eventually, Q realizes Margo has gone to Algoe in upstate New York, one of the ‘paper towns’ she told him about.

FYI: ‘Paper towns’ is a term used by mapmakers who put non-existent places on their maps to ensure copyright protection.

Q convinces his friends, along with Radar’s girl Angela (Jaz Sinclair) and Margo’s BFF Lacey (Halston Sage), to make a 1,200-mile road trip to Algoe, promising to get them back home in time for prom.

Adapted by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber and directed by Jake Schreier (“Robot and Frank”), it’s conventionally plotted and overly contrived, emphasizing themes of taking risks and developing your own perspective by delineating the disconnect between Q’s image of Margo and her image of herself. But that’s all too anticlimactic.

There are some quirky, appealing moments – like Radar’s parents’ collection of black Santas and a timely commentary on a T-shirt with the Confederate flag. Ansel Elgort (“The Fault in Our Stars”) does a cameo as a gas station cashier.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Paper Towns” is a formulaic 5, appealing primarily to pre-teens or those who have never seen John Hughes’ angst-riddled comedic dramas.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.