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Movie Review

A Better-Than-Expected Ending In 'Paper Towns'

20th Century Fox

Paper Towns tells the story of a half dozen high school seniors who go on an automobile trip that teaches them that it's the trip that is valuable, not the destination. The biggest problem with it is that the destination is another teenager, who is apparently supposed to be sympathetic but who has little to recommend her and little to explain why she is the way she is.

Her favorite activity seems to be vanishing for no clear reason, leaving behind little clues which her friends are expected to use to find her, no matter how inconvenient the effort may be and with no reward offered at any point. Her sole interest seems to be in grabbing attention for herself by playing these silly games, and you and I would be happy to see the back of her for good and all.

But high school friendships are about the only values there are in Paper Towns, and five other acquaintances sacrifice family and their own activities on a 26-hour motor trip all up the east coast on the chance that they might be rewarded by her presence at the prom; the actors take this premise seriously and give uniformly excellent performances, which are the best thing in the picture by far. Our hero thinks he is in love, but I'm not sure we're supposed to agree.

Paper Towns is a tribute to the kind of unquestioning acceptance that supposedly occurs only between very young people and combat veterans, and as such features some very attractive relationships among quite attractive people enjoying each other's company, with a lot of good humor and one of the few really funny sequences regarding urination that I've seen, with a better ending than I expected. If only it didn't have that one dubious heroine.