The title of Paper Towns refers to a trick that mapmakers use – they will insert fake places (called copyright traps or paper towns) onto their maps to make sure no one is copying them. The film is directed by Jake Shreier, and is adapted from John Green’s 2008 Paper Towns and by The Fault in our Stars (also written by Green) screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.
The film stars Nat Wolff as 17 year-old high school senior Quentin in Orlando, Florida (Wolff also portrayed Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars, which made $307 million internationally). His two best friends are Radar (Justice Smith) and Ben (Austin Abrams).
Quentin has had a crush on neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman, played by Cara Delevingne, ever since her family moved into the neighborhood. The two were inseparable when young, but have grown apart as Margo has gotten more popular. She’s now the most popular and mysterious girl in school. In real-life, Delevingne is also one of the highest paid models in the world. Shailene Woodley from The Fault in Our Stars, was originally cast as Margo, but had to drop out due to the clash of filming schedules with Insurgent.
After taking Quentin on an all-night vengeful adventure through Orlando (which she tells him will be the best night of his life), Margo suddenly disappears and leaves behind clues as to where she might be. She has always liked mysteries and clues, and has run away five times before. As a result, Margo’s mother isn’t concerned about her, but Quentin is, even though they had barely talked for nine years. He believes he knows from the clues he has found where Margo is. Time for a road trip just before Prom. Tagging along for the unplanned road trip are Ben, Radar and his girlfriend Angela (Jaz Sinclair), and Margo’s former best friend Lacey (Halston Sage), who’s worried about what might have happened to Margo.
The movie kept my interest and didn’t necessarily go the way I thought it would. The film shows the friendship of best friends Quentin, Ben and Radar, who will soon be going their separate ways to different colleges. It also includes some brief male nudity (played for laughs), a lot of teenage sexual dialogue, the abuse of God’s names several times, along with some adult language.
The movie was filmed over five days in the Skybrook neighborhood of Huntersville, NC (North of Charlotte) in mid to late November 2014. The author, John Green, who also serves as executive producer, makes a cameo as the voice of the shotgun-wielding father of Chuck. He states about his books, “Basically, I wanted a different definition of “paper towns” for each section of the book, each representing a different way of Quentin imagining Margo. In the first part, he’s viewing Margo very one-dimensionally. She’s paper-thin to him; she is nothing but the object of his affection. In the second part, he’s seeing a girl who’s half there and half not–so he’s thinking about her with more complexity but still not really thinking of her as a human being. In the final part of the novel, his complex imagining reconnects him to her, albeit not in the way he might’ve hoped.”