Story

Paper Towns is a romantic drama about Quentin Jacobson (Nat Wolff), a shy, conscientious and romantic student. He has had a long-term crush on his beautiful and popular neighbour, Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne), who used to climb through his bedroom window at night when they were both children.

One night, Margot appears again and asks Quentin to take her around the neighbourhood. She wants to revenge herself on people who have betrayed her, including her cheating boyfriend (Griffin Freeman). During their brief journey, Quentin falls more and more in love with Margo’s independence and determination. 

The following day, people discover that Margo has disappeared. Quentin becomes obsessed with finding out where she went and what happened, particularly after he discovers some clues that she has left behind. Eventually he learns a valuable lesson about idealising people that he doesn’t really know and taking people who are close to him for granted. 

Themes

Romance and love; revenge; mystery 

Violence

Paper Towns has minimal violence. It briefly shows a corpse, but the scene isn’t graphic and there is very little blood. 

Content that may disturb children

Under 8
Apart from the image of the corpse described above, there is nothing in Paper Towns that is likely to disturb children of this age. 

From 8-13
Apart from the image of the corpse described above, there is nothing in Paper Towns that is likely to disturb children of this age. 

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Paper Towns has some sexual references. For example:

  • Teenagers talk about sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Some characters talk about the sexual attractiveness of older women and a boy’s mother. 
  • Teenage characters talk in sexually suggestive ways and flirt with each other. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Paper Towns shows some use of substances. For example, many teenage characters drink alcohol socially – for example, at house parties. There isn’t much parental supervision at these parties.

Nudity and sexual activity

Paper Towns shows some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • There are scenes of partial but non-sexual nudity. 
  • Two characters kiss and embrace.

Product placement

Paper Towns has no product placement of concern.

Coarse language

Paper Towns has some coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Paper Towns is a touching and inspiring movie based on a novel by John Green. It focuses on Quentin as he searches for his missing neighbour Margo, with whom he has long been in love.

The movie shows how putting people on pedestals often ends in disappointment. Quentin thinks Margo is perfect, but he soon discovers that she has a troubled past. The movie highlights the need to see people as complex individuals, rather than as stereotypes. It also demonstrates the importance of friendships in keeping people grounded, and the value of taking risks and going outside your comfort zone.

There is very little in the movie to disturb young children, but its story and themes make it more suited to older teenagers. As parents, you might be concerned about scenes of teenagers talking about sex, drinking alcohol and using coarse language.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:

  • the complex nature of relationships, romantic or otherwise, and the way that some relationships can encourage you to grow and others can bring you down
  • teenage cliques and the importance of not stereotyping young people into groups – for example, the ‘popular’ girls or the ‘nerdy’ guys
  • the pressure that teenagers feel from parental, social and cultural expectations.