"A coming-of-age story centering on Quentin and his enigmatic neighbor Margo. After taking him on an all-night adventure, Margo disappears—leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher."
Since the dawn of film, no matter what genres have come and gone, the coming-of-age genre has always been a staple in the world of cinema. Films that depict someone learning valuable lessons or going through changes in their life. Sometimes it's about a spoiled rich girl learning to be kind to others, or a detailed look into the life of a growing boy. They're always relatable to someone or another.
They can relate to boys, girls, high-schoolers, college students or all of the above. They can feature some aspect of an adult's childhood that they hadn't thought about in a while, and suddenly the memories just start pouring in. But the really great coming-of-age films, are the ones that almost anyone can relate to.
Paper Towns is that kind of movie. No matter where you came from, or where you are now, this movie is easily relatable in so many ways. It doesn't matter if you're a teenager like me, or a grown adult, this movie will definitely put you on memory lane.
Let's take a look at some of the relatable aspects of this coming-of-age movie!
Q And Margo—Opposite But Similar Natures
The protagonist of Paper Towns is Quentin "Q" Jacobson, an intelligent and sort of shy senior in high school. He's smart, funny and awkward. While not everyone can relate to those categories, we can certainly all relate to his thoughts of "What's next?" and "Is there more for me?". Every teenager has these thoughts, we all wonder if there's more to the life we're living.
We search for a miracle, an opportunity that will make our lives more exciting. For Q, that miracle was his mysterious neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. From the minute he met her, he knew she was going to be a life changer. Like Q, we've all wanted or had a Margo in our lives. Someone who challenged us to be spontaneous or new, to reach for the stars and take what we thought was ours. Of course, if you were like Q, you were the type of person who was hesitant to take those chances, to make those changes. Not because you preferred not to, but because you didn't know what would come out of them.
But perhaps you're more like Margo. A girl full of mystery and allure, Margo is never afraid to take risks in life. She's done it all, from surfing across the Atlantic to climbing Mt. Everest. At least, that's what the rumors about her say. Margo may seem like a regular "Indiana Jane", but in reality, she's just as much of a soul-searching person as Q is.
At their core, Q and Margo are essentially the same. What separates them is the way they go about looking for that next big step in their lives, the miracle that they've been looking for. Margo travels the United States, leaving home on a whim without telling anyone. Whilst Q just daydreams all day, wondering when or what his miracle will be. We've all definitely either been a Q or a Margo, and had one of them in our lives.
High School's Almost Over
The most obvious and cliche of coming-of-age subplots is of course touched on in Paper Towns. Every high school has thoughts about their life after. What college they're going to, what they'll major in, should they get a part-time job. I'm IN college, and I'm still thinking about stuff that people think about before it!
It's a stressful time in everyone's life. It's when the world suddenly considers us responsible adults. It's when we say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. The high-school cast of Paper Towns has to go through the very same process. While the film is primarily about Q and his desperate search for Margo, a main side story is the strong bond between him and his friends.
Quentin and his merry men, Ben and Radar have been friends "since they were fetuses", and it's their last year together, before they go off to college. The three amigos struggle to have the time of their lives, as it may be their last chance to do so. I can certainly relate to this, many of my close friends have gone off to college in different cities or states. It's tough, but as these three friends in Paper Towns show, it's not the end of a friendship, just an era.
A big point in the movie is that not everyone is who they appear to be. Lacey Pemberton is known as the popular hot girl that every guy wants to go out with. She's thought to be an airhead or self-absorbed, like most traditional representations of the popular girl in films.
But in the film, we see that there's more to her than meets the eye. She's intelligent, goodhearted and apparently a huge Charizard fan (eh, I'm more of a Blastoise dude honestly).
No matter what age you are, you're always getting put into some predetermined category. Jocks, geeks, goths, populars—these and many more categories are used to describe what kind of person you are. But like Paper Towns shows, people can't be stuffed into a single bracket.
All of the characters are very multifaceted. Q is first introduced as a play it safe, shy kind of guy. But as the movies progresses, we see more of his wild nature. Margo seems like a person who is very confident about who she is, and what she does. But near the end, you learn that she has no idea who she is, and all this spontaneity and adventure is to find that out. It's a lesson we can all learn, people are more than just what we think they are.
Searching For The Girl
Paper Towns is about Q and his nonstop search for Margo, his mysterious love interest who's suddenly gone missing. He follows clues that she seemingly left for him all over town, and stops at nothing to track down the girl of his dreams. Now, frantically playing 'Clue Finder' all over town like a member of the mystery gang, and then traveling cross country just for a girl you like isn't super relatable. If you have done all that, congratulations, you're a John Green character.
But most of us have probably gone above and beyond for a person we've liked. Young love is certainly the most adventurous and die hard of loves. Like Q, we've "solved the clues", we've "gone on a journey", we've done everything we can to win over our significant other. Basically, we did everything that Q did, but metaphorically.
Again, if you've literally trekked across the United States just to find the woman of your dreams, you seriously need to turn your life into a book. That is a certified bestseller!
Realizing It's Ok If You Don't Get Her
Like I said before, we've all at one point or another tried really hard to earn the attention of somebody else. So when our attempts fail, we can take it kind of hard.
But understanding that not getting girl (or guy) isn't the end of the world is all apart of growing up. Q, who spends most of the movie solving mysteries and going on road trips to find Margo, finally finds her—only to find out that she wasn't expecting him to come looking for her at all. Turns out, she only left the clues to let him know she was safe.
Though it was kind of a pointless venture, Q didn't come out of it without learning a few lessons. One such lesson was that sometimes what we think is our miracle, isn't. He learns that his true miracle was in front of him all along—his family, his friends, and his wonderful life. It's one of the things I love about this movie. That it doesn't end like a conventional love story. I know I'm starting sound a little sappy, but this an article about a John Green movie, you knew what you were getting in to.
Paper Towns is smart, charming and inspiring. On the surface, it looks like just another love story. But even though it's the main premise, Q's search for Margo isn't what this film is about. It's about friendship. A group of friends, going on a huge road trip together, and hanging out for what may be the last time.
Q and his friends' coming-of-age adventure is something we can all relate to. Going off to college, saying goodbye to our old lives, and finally realizing that everything is going to be alright. I'm glad it didn't take the traditional route most love stories take, where the guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after. Instead, it shows that true love isn't always about this guy and that girl. Sometimes, it's about the people who are closest to you, that stick with you every step of the way.
Like the man says...
Paper Towns comes out in theaters on July 24, 2015. It stars Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne.
The premise is wonderful, the dialogue is witty and charming, and the cast is stupendous. Both Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne prove that they can handle lead roles, and that they are worthy of their spots on Hollywood's 'Rising Star' list!
I seriously recommend Paper Towns, in all it's relatable glory, to everyone.