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A healthy mix of both teenage angst and wonderment is on full display in the debut trailer for Paper Towns. Based on a novel by John Green, the same author who wrote the book inspiring last year’s hit, The Fault in Our Stars, this film shifts thematic focus from the bittersweet idea of dying teens finding out what’s real about life to that of one teen’s odyssey in discovering what’s fake. Yet, what’s immediately clear is the presence of oddly-insightful teens dealing with deep issues that’s quickly becoming a signature attribute of the author’s live-action world.
Young Quentin "Q" Jacobson (Nat Wolff) has apparently spent most of his life idealizing his beautiful neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevigne) to the point of mythical proportions. The two were friends early on in their acquaintance, but drifted apart by the time they had started high school. While Q lived a pretty tame, normal life, Margo’s was a rollercoaster ride of interesting experiences. However, that social divide created by the superficial will be broken down one night when Margo sneaks into his room and asks for his help in a series of revenge pranks against a cheating beau and some disloyal friends. The experience reconnects them, leaving Q optimistic about his chances with her, when suddenly, Margo mysteriously disappears. Using clues seemingly left behind, Q and some friends go on a road trip to find his missing would-be love.
Based on what we see in this trailer, Q’s idealization of Margo seems to be the central concept of the story. He has spent his entire life putting her on a pedestal of perfection; something that apparently everyone else in school has done, making her the proverbial belle of the ball at their clique-conscious high school. Yet, for all that Margo has apparently achieved in her short life, she clearly expresses that it all seems fake and pointless, as the trailer suggest with her uttering the film’s title line describing their home city as "a paper town," adding that "everything’s uglier up close." It’s clearly an issue for the exquisite, but troubled teen, as, barring foul play, it seems to be the root motivation for her abrupt disappearance.
Just like last year’s YA megahit, The Fault in Our Stars, this film is not only based off a book by John Green, but it is also boosted by most of the same team of producers. Occupying the director’s chair is Jake Schreier, whose only other major feature is the 2012 light-hearted futuristic comedy, Robot & Frank. Yet, Paper Towns seems to lend itself to a mold that was firmly set by the aforementioned Stars in that, almost resembling the repertoire of John Hughes, it follows almost conspicuously-thoughtful teenagers who find themselves tackling deep existential issues that would vex adults. It's certainly looking to be an emotional, hormonally charged roller coaster of deep self-discovery.
Paper Towns hopes to avoid proving to be "uglier up close" when it hits theaters on July 24.