Paper Towns Movie Review

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Last night, I finally went to see the film adaptation of John Green’s novel, Paper Towns.  I went with a group of former students who are just as obsessed about all things John Green as I am, so it was only appropriate that we see this film together before we all head off to school for the upcoming year.  I will be the only one returning to high school; they will all be freshmen in college.  Can you sense the feels setting in?

Anyways, we all met and everyone had previously read Paper Towns, but with mixed reviews.  About half of the group had read all of John Green’s novels, the rest had only devour his top 3 (in our humble opinions):

3.  Paper Towns

2.  The Fault in Our Stars

1.  Looking for Alaska

The last time I had read Paper Towns, I was still in Alaska and was in the middle of my John Green marathon of reading.  I had already read the other top 3, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson.  By the time I got to Paper Towns, I admit that I may have been a bit burnt out, from reading and island life, so upon reflection I may have judged the book too harshly back then.  I really didn’t connect with Margo, the radiation she gave off that enticed Q so much, but I loved the first half of the book (9 things to do tonight) and the friendship between the protagonist, Ben, and Radar.

That was four years ago, and I hadn’t read the book since.  As the release date approached for the movie, I decided to reread the book, and sadly, I only reconfirmed my first opinions.  It’s a beautifully written book, but I couldn’t agree with the agency to run off to New York that grew out of living across the street from Margo Roth Spiegelman.  But then again, I’m not an 18 year old male.  To me, she wasn’t really a character, but an object.  My friend, Amy, put it quite precisely when she said, “I only saw Margo as being a “person of interest” to someone the way a forbidden object is. It’s desirable until you have it and then once you do have it you realize that it wasn’t such a big deal.”

Be that as it may, I went into the movie with an open mind because it’s still John Green, and I loved Nat Wolff in “The Fault in Our Stars.”  It will always be a pleasure to watch his words come to life.


Post Movie Watching…

I was not disappointed.  That’s an awful way to start a movie review, especially when you proclaim to have such admiration for the author who penned the novel it was based upon.  It was a good movie.  There.  That’s better, right?  Ok, so I didn’t leave the film with as deep a visceral reaction as I did “The Fault in Our Stars,” but you cannot really compare the two movies, the characters in them, or their objectives.  Plenty of films, their sequels, or other films based upon the works of the same author/director/actor don’t get the same applause as others, so this is natural.  However, I feel guilty for not liking the movie as much as I could have.  It’s best to ensure that I am separating the issues I had with the movie versus the issues I had with the book.

Let me be very clear here:  I still don’t like Margo Roth Spiegelman as a character, but I think we saw a giant step in the career of Cara Delevingne.  She has hauntingly beautiful features, and she carried off the grit of her character well.

I loved the entire cast with the exception of one actor: Nat Wolff.  I heard someone in the theater say, “I liked him better when he didn’t have eyes.”  Ouch.  I would suggest that yes, he was better in “The Fault in Our Stars,” and it may just be that he’s more suited for playing supporting roles and not quite ready for “leading male.”  I just had a really hard time taking him seriously after I made this connection:

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This is definitely not an attempt to make fun of Nat, or his acting, but I definitely got a strong “Confused Adam Sandler” whenever Q would sort of look off to either contemplate the repercussions of his next step or taking in the aftermath of what he had just done.  It happened a lot in the film, a distracting amount in fact, and it was difficult as an audience member to appreciate the silent mentality of Quentin.  I wanted more from him because I really do like the character.  I just couldn’t connect with this portrayal.  But, like a lot of film adaptations, it’s not easy to get all the intricacies of a character and their internalization across on the screen, and such was the case for Q and “Paper Towns.”

There were a few issues I had with how quickly certain areas of suspended disbelief were to have occurred, but my biggest was that we never really did get a strong sense as to why Margo would up and leave for a paper town, and why the five-some would get into a van (that apparently their parents were totally cool with them taking and going on a two-day road trip during their senior year – and we take issue with Margo’s parents!).  I get it because I read the book and I’m a human: we go to seek adventure and create memories.  Plus, they’re teenagers and innately impulsive.  One last escapade before “adulthood” because we are talking about five very serious-minded teenagers who are on paths to very prestigious future colleges/futures.  It was a very calculated risk they all took, and the camaraderie built between the three male friends and the expanded pack that included Lacey and Angela was very enjoyable to watch.  I wanted to see more character development for our two leads: Quentin and Margo, or at least the enticement of her.

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When it gets right down to it, you can’t really review a film based on a novel without blurring the lines between your opinions of both.  In the end, it was a fine film adaptation.  There were moments of pure joy and hilarity, and a cameo that made us jump up and clap in our seats.  Perhaps I didn’t find as much comfort in watching this film because I was left unsettled from the novel.  It would be unfair to pin the responsibility of the director, actors, or even John Green’s role in the production on this film to make up for what was missing on the page.  Ultimately, I’m glad I saw this film and I’ll be preparing myself for the eventual release of the Looking for Alaska adaptation.

Final Review: 3 of 5 Stars

What I Accomplished Over Break

In less than 24 hours, the majority of teachers across the country will be heading back to work, like most who have been on vacation, including our students, with a sigh and weighted-feet.  I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but who doesn’t love the freedom that time off from work provides?  Right now, I am 67/33 about going back.  I thrive on routine, I am energized by my career, and tomorrow doesn’t seem so bad.  Talk to me right after my alarm clock goes off and it might be a different story.

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These past two weeks have been rejuvenating, rewarding, and have provided me ample reminders about gratitude and what is truly important in life: family and love.

I’ve also had a great sense of accomplishment with the time off.  I’ve been able to check off many tasks on my To-Do/Want-To-Get-Done-Someday list.

What I’ve Accomplished Over the Holiday Break

The Silver Linings Playbook Review

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(Via GoodreadsA HEARTWARMING DEBUT NOVEL, NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!

Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

In this enchanting novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.”

My Silver Linings Timeline:

December 2012: Watched the film, “Silver Linings Playbook” in Michigan theater with my husband.  Raved about it for weeks.

January 2013: Discovered the film was based on a book when I entered a Barnes and Noble and purchased the book.

June 10, 2013: Finally read the novel while on vacation – completed the book in one day.

June 16, 2013:  Watch “The Silver Linings Playbook” On Demand.

June 17, 2013: Order DVD copy of “The Silver Linings Playbook” from Amazon (Shhh, don’t tell my husband)

Pros of Seeing a Movie Before Reading the Book:

  • You can picture the setting and the characters much easier in your head.  Let’s face it, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are certainly easy on the eyes, so this was definitely not a problem.
  • You don’t have to worry about someone spoiling the book by giving away the ending, which is my #2 pet peeve of all time.  I have the rage of 1,000 suns in me when people tell the endings of books/TV shows/movies.tumblr_inline_moizjggPka1qz4rgp You already have a good idea as to what is going to happen, and sometimes you’re given a gift when the director/producer/whoever the hell decides these things may change the ending or tweak a character or two.

Cons of Seeing the Movie Before Reading the Book:

  • You hate the actors who play certain roles in the movie and you cannot get them out of your head as you’re reading the book.
  • The director/producer/whoever the hell decides these things choose to make the WRONG changes to the ending or tweak a character into a horrible mess.

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I cannot tell you why I didn’t begin reading the book Silver Linings Playbook right after I purchased it; it certainly wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy the movie, I mean there’s a reason why I purchased the book.  I do live by the adage that the book is ALWAYS better than the movie – ergo the book was bound to be a masterpiece.

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But as life and cooked spaghetti does, things changed directions in an unexpected way and other reading materials popped up in my radar, and the novel was placed on a shelf to be read at an undisclosed date.  It happens all the time; I really am quite loose when it comes to giving my literary attention away.

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The overall message of both the book and the movie are clear and universally hopeful.

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A student asked me why do I always choose books that “rip people’s hearts out.”  The truth is that books, good books reflect the human condition and suffering is often part of that.  However, Matthew Quick found an eloquent way of explaining the need for exposure to pain and strife:

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I stick to my mantra and the book was indeed superior to the film equivalent.  I will indeed reread the book, I will rewatch the film, as they both enhance one another, which is a rarity amongst the two formats of storytelling.

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