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Paper Towns

Breaking the rules a bit here. We'll get back to my Chicago movie adventures for the next post, but I wanted to get this one out while it was still fresh. So, spoiler alert, didn't see Paper Towns in Chicago, even though it came up as an option a couple times. I'd previously marked today as an available movie catch up day since it's the night of the month that my advanced yoga class switches to a really advanced one that I wasn't ready for. I figured in the unlikely event I didn't get to everything (or anything) in Chicago, I'd at least have this day.

Originally, Paper Towns was midway on my priority list. Not a must see, or a try to see, but a see if I'm caught up on all musts and tries. I did think that John Green's previous offering, Fault in Our Stars wasn't too bad, all things considered. Not a raving enough endorsement to decide anything, but enough to give me pause. I just wasn't sure if I wanted to deal with a teeny bopper romantic film. But somewhere in the past week or so I decided that I think I like Cara Delevigne. She seems like a pretty bad ass chick and that she'd bring some grit to the role. Every time the movie got bumped from my potential schedule, I found myself a little bit bummed. It didn't occur to me until I was there that she likely wouldn't be in too much of the movie (given the plot) so maybe not the best reason to justify going.

I was really surprised with how much this resonated with me. And as I sat by myself in the nearly empty theater (two other very quiet people a couple rows back, and that's it), and I noticed I picked a spot that framed the screen exactly centered full width in my line of vision, it felt like it was all just for me.

The manic pixie dream girl is a trope that I have mixed feelings about. She was great the first few times I spotted her (Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer being the ultimate one). Since then she's been a little overdone. Also, there tends to be a feminist argument against her since she promotes an unrealistic ideal as an object of desire. My problem isn't that I want her and she's not real, but rather that I really want to be her and that's unobtainable. Watching the story play out, Margo was very much the latest MPDG.

So the story is that Margo is the ultimate girl next door, or actually across the street, from Quentin. He fell in love with her as kids when they used to play together, but over time they grew apart. Now, in high school, she's the enigmatic and widely beloved popular girl and he's the ignored geek. She sneaks into his room one night and enlists his help in an evening of revenge and rebellion. The next day, she's gone without a trace. Well, almost without a trace. She leaves subtle clues that Quentin attempts to follow so he can find his dream girl at the end of her trail of breadcrumbs.

Watching this, I couldn't help but think how perfectly Margo embodied the MPDG I wish I was. From her sense of style, to her husky voice, to her clever schemes, to her quirky spontaneity. Hell, I even went thru a phase where I capitalized all my letters except for "e" that kinda mirrors her random capitalization thing. But the more we learned about her, the more I realized I wasn't remotely like her, but in fact was exactly like Quentin. Shy, anxious, overly logical, planning out every detail of everything. I mean really, him chasing her was an exact representation of me chasing that character.

I was enthralled thru the first two acts, but the third sort of slowed down into your typical high school bildungsroman. And I realized why high school kids are annoying and why their sentimentality is kind of crap, mostly based on my experiences in which high school was the worst part of my life that I knew I could escape once I reached college. Not to give things away, though, I was very satisfied with the resolution. Realistic yet still a little whimsical, even if some details were a little trite (IMDB tells me most of those details I didn't like were actually changes from the novel). The point was that what a person seems like to you is just a matter of perspective. Maybe someday I'll be someone's idea of a MPDG. Maybe I already am and I just don't know it

Paper Towns - \m/ \m/ \m/ \n
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