As Frank Sinatra sang, "It is only a paper moon sailing over a cardboard sea." (No this song is not in the movie.) In this movie, Paper Towns, one of the main characters, Margo (Cara Delevingne ) is convinced we all live in "Paper Towns". Over the years she has become a legend in her own time, with a reputation as a young woman of mystery and intrigue among her classmates. Quinton (Nat Wolfe) has been in love with Margo since she moved in the house across the street eleven years earlier. But as they grew up she went on to her life of excitement and popularity and Quinton, or Q as his friends called him, faded into the shadows of those who hang out in the music room, dream of the prom, and endure high school only as a way out to college.
All this comes to an abrupt halt when Q wakes up to find Margo crawling into his bedroom window, asking him to be her co-hort in crime for a night of retribution. And the story starts.
The film, to me, is a combination of "The Perks of Being a Wall flower" sans Emma Watson, "The Spectacular Now", and "The Fault in Our Stars". No, it does not have any of the tears "The Fault in Our Stars" had but John Green and Scott Neustadter's have their writer's stamp all over it as only they can. The screenplay deftly brings out the teenage angst without embarrassing the characters (as well as the audience). By the end of the film, the fog of senior year has lifted and some mysteries have been revealed.
Q's best friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith) show what good friends truly are - someone you can count on. Lacey (Halston Sage) and Angela (Jazz Sinclair) round out the group bringing humor and making the boys realize that girls are not as sacrosanct as they may have feared.
The movie moves along with good dialogue, funny moments, and poignant scenes. Nothing seems too outrageous. It is a coming of age film, a film about finding out who you really are, and it is a road trip film. Some may say it is the cliche of the lesson being the journey not the destination - I'll leave that one on the table.
The end is not predictable. Q tries to figure out clues the mysterious Margo has left, convinced she wants him to follow her. From the start in Q's mind, it was the second line to Sinatra's song that he went by, "But it wouldn't be make believe if you believed in me." Sometimes we just need to grow up and realize that make believe is just . . . well, make believe.
This is 109 minutes well worth your time.