In case you don't know, the story of "Paper Towns" follows Quentin, a high school senior with two best friends, Ben and Radar, who has almost never broken the rules, plans for his future, has a tendency to overthink things, is planning for the end of his high school career and has been in love with his neighbor Margo Roth Spiegelman since they were children. Once great friends, the two grew apart as they got older and separated into two different social groups. That's until one fateful night, when Margo finds out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her and decides to take Quentin on a night of revenge. After that night, Margo goes missing and Q makes it his mission to find her. Together with Ben, Radar and Margo's best friend Lacey, they piece together the clues left behind by Margo in order to find her. Now if you don't want any potential spoilers, stop reading RIGHT NOW!
Right at the start of the film, we're introduced to our two main characters as children and witness the moment that Q saw Margo for the very first time while he, as the narrator, is giving a speech about finding miracles. Instead of getting to know their personalities as they grow, we as the audience are shown and told almost immediately. While for some films this may not work, they make it work here as both characters sort of change throughout the story, especially Q. While they're children, we see a short scene where Margo knocks on Q's bedroom window while he's sleeping, wondering if he wants to go on an adventure with her. Being the rule follower that he tends to be, he says no despite her trying to entice him. A little later in the film, we see this same scene recreated, except this time, they're teenagers and Q agrees to go as it's a revenge mission against Margo's cheating boyfriend and those she believed wronged her. At the end, they go into this building overlooking their town while Margo gives this vague speech to Q about how people need to bend the rules in order to find themselves and stop being fake. I found this all to be one long, fantastic moment as it pushed Quentin to be more adventurous while simultaneously setting off the rest of the story.
My favorite moment of the story, however, was a somewhat more intimate one between Q and Lacey. They're in a bathroom alone together while at Margo's ex-boyfriend's party. Q walks into the bathroom in order to pee, not expecting anybody else to be in there. Upon starting to use the toilet, Lacey opens the bathtub curtain to reveal herself. After doing his duty, Lacey asks him to join her in the bathtub, which he does. From there, Lacey asks him to look at her and say the first word that comes to his mind, which was "beauty" or "beautiful". This causes her to disagree with him and say that that's what everyone calls her and recognizes her for, instead of recognizing her for her intelligence and caring nature. I felt like I could relate very highly to this scene, Lacey in particular, as I myself have felt the same way, with very few people having called me intelligent and thinking I can handle things on my own.
Another thing I loved was how it really felt like two different movies, but it worked out well. The first half seemed to focus a lot on character development and getting to know the characters, while the second half was all about the road trip and showing how the characters were able to intertwine and find Margo.
The only thing that I didn't like about the film was how the parents seemed to show a lack of care for what was going on. Margo's parents didn't care that she went missing, Q's dad was barely there outside of a single scene and no one parents really seemed to care or notice that the character skipped class on multiple occasions and went on a cross-country road-trip (especially Q's mom, whose van they used to make said trip without being told).
Overall, the movie was truly phenomenal and I found it to be way better than "The Fault in Our Stars", which I also loved! I definitely recommend seeing this film!
A spoiler for those who have read the book: I was told that the end is slightly different than that of the book, but that the new end makes the story better, so don't let that deter you from seeing this film!