Unlike a lot of people who get upset when they see a book they enjoy is being made into a movie, I enjoy watching movie versions of books I’ve read. I treat the movie as its own separate entity and respect it as an interpretation of the original work. I also have fun comparing them and listing the changes the movie made and why they may have done that.
I had the same mindset when I saw Paper Towns. I had read the book about a year prior, so I didn’t remember all the details, but I was able to point out when some key things changed. I didn’t enjoy Paper Towns too much. I read it after I read The Fault in Our Stars, so I think I was holding it up to that level and it just didn’t deliver.
I thought the movie was a great build on the book. It took the parts of the book I enjoyed and added another layer to it. I always look for parts of movies where the entire theater laughs out loud together. I think that shows that a movie really succeeded in the comedic aspect. There were three times this happened. Once when the three boys broke out into the Pokémon theme song, another time when Radar picked up a random shirt from the gas station and it turned out to be about the Confederacy, and a third time when Ansel Elgort, who played Gus in The Fault in Our Stars, made a cameo as the gas station clerk and the entire theater freaked out and laughed at how perfect and unexpected it was.
I thought the movie captured the nostalgia of the book, but also added more to it. In the book, it seemed like Quentin was a bit pathetic and all he cared about was this girl who barely cared about him. In the movie he was a little less pathetic, and I thought the movie perfectly captured the friendship between Quentin, Ben and Radar. These are three boys who have known each other for a really long time and are about to graduate high school and go their separate ways. It’s a situation that I’m sure a lot of people can relate to and I’m glad their friendship was capitalized on.
In the book it seemed like it was more about finding yourself as Quentin came to terms with his feelings for Margo and how they fit into his life, but the movie seemed more about friendship. Even though Quentin was completely against going to prom, he went alone to join his friends and spend the last few moments of high school with the people in his life who really matter.
I thought the chemistry of the cast was really good. Nat Wolff played a great Quentin and it was especially fun to see him after enjoying him so much as Isaac in The Fault in Our Stars. Austin Abrams and Justice Smith were great as Ben and Radar and there were so many scenes I laughed out loud at. Their chemistry together as well as with Nat Wolff was great and it was like they were actually all best friends. The only member of the cast I really didn’t enjoy that much was Cara Delevingne as Margo, though I think a lot of that is because Margo has very little screen time and was never really my favorite character, even in the book.
This movie was funny, tense and romantic all at the same time. I recommend it for teenagers the most, because that’s the demographic John Green books most appeal to, but I also believe that this is a movie all audiences can enjoy.