Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Page to Screen: Paper Towns
Confession: I often avoid seeing movies that are based books that I like. My book club and I had planned to see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (which I still haven't read). However, that movie left the theater right before we were due to meet, so the obvious thing to do was to go and see:
I was worried. I read Paper Towns some years ago and really liked it, but the casting had me concerned. That supermodel was all wrong to play Margot, and if Quentin were really that adorable looking, the book would obviously have turned out a different way.
I went into the movie with no expectations, and ... I really liked it a lot. I thought it captured the spirit of the book and I was happy that there were changes. The Harry Potter movies aside, I think the most successful book-to-movie adaptations are the ones that aren't afraid to actually adapt the book a bit.
What's different about the movie?
If you don't want to know what was changed from page to screen, you should stop reading here. If you haven't read the book, this won't make much sense to you, but carry on unless you are afraid of spoilers.
I was really happy that Ben's character was toned down a bit. Thankfully, there were no mentions of honeybunnies or all the different bunnies he was always going on about. On screen, Ben was definitely channeling Anthony Michael Hall in every John Hughes movie, but I have no complaints about that.
Q gets cuter
I can understand that in a movie targeted to a mainstream teen crowd, Quentin had to be more cute and less awkward than in the book. One review I read called the movie version of Quentin "unsurprising" and "average." That's harsh, but I sort of see the point. In the book, since Q is the narrator, his voice is stronger and I he comes off quirkier and smarter.
Watching this on screen made me realize that Paper Towns is a fairly guy-centric book. Margo is pretty much a MPDG, and all the other girls in the book have very minor roles. While I really loved that the movie emphasized the great friendship between Q, Ben and Radar, I was happy that Radar's girlfriend Angela got a bigger role in the film.
P.S. I was wrong about Cara Delevingne. She made a great Margo.
I loved seeing the prank sequence come to life on the screen. Sadly, there was no trip to Sea World, but I still thought this aspect was fantastic and otherwise true to the literary version.
Who doesn't love a road trip? I thought the small changes made to the trip were really smart and added some needed suspense and humor.
Hilarious. And exactly right for these characters if they're high school seniors in 2015.
Really, really liked the way the ending was done. I was really afraid that there'd be some (highlight for spoiler) completely inappropriate Hollywood happy ending, (end spoiler) but I really liked the very slight changes to the ending.