Paper Towns is another one of those coming-of-age films about young adults who are leaving school life to embark on a journey of uncertainty in life, searching for your place in the world and discovering the joy and excitement of getting out from your comfort zone to venture out to the unknown and try new things. This film is also about adolescent crushes - for those of us who had a crush on someone popular and hot in school who we tend to always think about and fantasize many things of her, but as time passes it turned out that she's not the girl we expect her to be. We found out that we liked the idea of her, but not who she really is.
Based on the novel of same name by John Green, who's also the author of The Fault in Our Stars, it's a story about Quentin, a slightly nerdy, conservative, smart boy who had a crush for the girl next door, Margo who moved in to the neighbourhood since young. In the beginning, the film describes Margo as an outgoing, adventurous girl who likes to explore and discover new things around her, which is the complete opposite of Quentin. After having a rather wild revenge night with Margo, she disappeared mysteriously the next morning without informing anyone, including her parents. Since she's known for leaving clues behind for others to find her whereabouts, Quentin decided to embark on a quest with his two best friends to go out and find her.
First and foremost, I have to say that this is the not the typical teen romantic comedy film you expect it to be. The road trip adventure is slightly less dramatic than other comedy films that we used to see in the past, of which I think might put off some audience who might expect something more fun and interesting might happen. However, you will soon learn that sometimes things in life just aren't what you expect it to be. It tries to show the false sense of reality we have in life, we tend to assume that we know people around us, but that doesn't mean that's who he/she really is. We think we know, but we don't. It tries to show the importance of discovering who you really are, what you want to be and what actually matters in life in a less preachy manner.
Paper town literally means fictional town that mapmakers include into their maps so that they could know if someone copied theirs. It is used in this film to describe the illusion of perfection, how everything is not what it seems, especially people. The ending gives a slightly heartfelt bittersweet feeling about moving on to the next stage of life, growing up and allowing people closest to you to be who they are and what they want to be. Sometimes people need to get lost to find out who they really are.