20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

Book to Box Office: Paper Towns

Based on: Paper Towns by John Green (2008)

Expected release date (US): July 24, 2015

Directed by: Jake Schreier with screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber

Summary: Teen boy Quentin Jacobsen’s beautiful and mysterious next door neighbor Margo leads him on one night of adventure and mischief before disappearing entirely… entirely, that is, except for clues she has left behind, meant for Quentin alone. Historically a rule-follower, Quentin finds himself shirking responsibility and curfew to follow Margo’s trail.

Working for it: Okay, to start I need to confess something: I have neither read nor seen The Fault in Our Stars, Green’s hit novel and first movie adaptation. Based on its reported popularity and subsequent SNL spoofing, I have to conclude that John Green might be the Nicholas Sparks of this generation of teens… and that, along with the fact that the same team behind The Fault in Our Stars created the Paper Towns film, points to a hit. Now, whether that movie will be good or not is hard to say. Without revealing too much, I have to say that Paper Towns is a page turner with no satisfying ending (I don’t think I gave much away there). 90 percent of the book is really fun to read, and then the story loses its magnetism, unless you believe in crazy stupid love, which most teenagers do, I guess. So maybe they’ll love Paper Towns just as much as The Fault in Our Stars. In addition to the love story, however, Paper Towns has graduation parties, drunk dialing, pissing in bottles on a reckless road trip, and at least one near-death experience, so there’s plenty to draw in a wide (but still young) audience.

Working against it: I can’t honestly say there’s much here that won’t make a good film for the average teenager. I would have wanted to see it 15 years ago. You could argue that choosing an actor from The Fault in Our Stars to play Quentin could violate the fictional universe by making it too hard to forget that the Paper Towns story isn’t real (since viewers will recognize Quentin as Nat Wolff from TFIOS), but I’m really, really stretching to find a reason this movie won’t work.

Wild card: None. They have taken no risks with casting, writing, directing, etc., and the story itself is perfect for its intended audience. That’s the only catch: “for its intended audience.”

Verdict: This’ll probably be a winner. I have no strong desire to see it, but if I were fifteen, I would likely head to the theater–and enjoy myself, too. And really, wouldn’t that make this a good movie, even if 29-year-old me finds it more cute than compelling?