Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Paper Thin

Sigh. The teen years are filled with angst, adventure, fear, and uncertainty. The film version of John Green's award-winning novel Paper Towns wants to capture all of that, but falls short of the mark, settling instead for being teen melodramatic claptrap.

There's just nothing here - and it's not that it's awful (remember, our standard for eye-gouging awfulness remains Bay's Transformers 4), but it's just meh. The cinematography is nothing special, the acting is fairly bland, the script has some plot holes Quentin could drive his mom's minivan through - it's simply not good. I can't comment on how closely the movie hews to the source material (although others have), but the film seems overwrought and unrealistic, both in motivation for characters' behavior and in its treatment of time (really - you can't take a bus from New York to Orlando and arrive in time for your prom. You just can't). Oh, and Margo Roth Spiegelman isn't a "mystery;" she's a whack job who is only fit company for the creepy whatisname Cullen from Twilight. Remember? The guy who watches his crush sleeping without her knowing about it and refers to her as my "own brand of heroin." Yeah. That guy. Margo is portrayed here as a budding hipster - look, she collects vinyl records! Her room is decorated whimsically! She's so alternative! No - she isn't. She's screaming for attention and apparently has unlimited funds to skip town and live comfortably.

That being said, I also have to realize and appreciate that I'm not the audience Paper Towns is trying to capture. Teens might love it and I refuse to say they're wrong. I have several films that I adored as a teen that I now look back on and gently shake my head. To me, Paper Towns is thin and ridiculous, but I'm not a teen who thinks (as 98% of teens do) that my life sucks and my town is boring. John Green is a force to be reckoned with in the YA demographic, so maybe to his target audience, Paper Towns captures some of that roiling teen whiplash experience.

For my money, if you truly want to see the high school experience, you should check out the Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Season Three episode "Earshot." Really - the writing's better and the story, even if it does involve demons, is more compelling. It's available free from Hulu!

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