Movie Review: Paper Towns (2015)

imageOne of the “perks of being a movie critic” is having a favorite genre, and I’m an absolute sucker for coming-of-age dramas. Jake Schreier’s Paper Towns (B) is a leisurely paced but fairly sensational adaptation of a young adult novel about losing yourself, finding yourself and savoring the moments in between. When a sensitive but by-the-books high school student, charmingly played by Nat Wolff, gives into a night of spontaneous prankster antics with the popular girl next door (an alluring and lived-in performance by Cara Delevingne), the teen discovers a bit of his roguish nature and unlocks the beginnings of a mystery; and the final weeks of high school become a series of unexpected breakthroughs. Romanticized with all applicable teen drama tenets – wise-beyond-her-years muse, prom plot line, road trip, scruffy sidekicks and the like – the film manages to layer in a mystery adventure that speaks to the very nature of love for oneself and others. It’s a tad overstuffed; but despite some over-the-top leaps of faith, the film contains believable characters and a prescient payoff. The selfie generation has another awesome movie about selflessness and a nice piece of summer movie counter-programming.