There are so many reasons to love a John Green movie! Green's teenagers are funny, smart and often, surprisingly kind. In a 2015 film lineup of Marvel Comics and the Mockingjay Part 2, I root for more movies to explore the ordinary love lives of teenagers.
"Paper Towns" is not "The Fault In Our Stars." It's a movie that is far messier, and I fear a more accurate depiction of how teenage boys view marriage, sexuality, and family life in current American Society. The typical Romantic Comedy format is inverted in this film. The boy falls in love with the girl, yet she shuns intimacy not only with him, but also with her little sister and her best friend. She ends up putting a literal 1200 miles between her hometown of Orlando, Florida, and a made up geographic spot in Up State New York (a fake Paper Town, created by a mapmaker to fight copy write infringement).
In the last line of the movie, the hero tells us "A girl is not a mystery or an adventure." I left the movie feeling disquieted. I am a woman of both mystery and adventure. I venture to guess that all emotionally healed and fully alive women share those traits with me. Teenage boys are the "canaries in the coal mine" in terms of how despairing our culture has become with even the hope of having authentic and life-giving relationships between men and women.
In Romantic Comedies, it used to be that finding a spouse was an adventure that ended with the start of a new adventure--building a life together. In this perfectly politically correct John Green movie, a teenage hero comes to a different conclusion. I can't help but think that we're all the poorer for losing a rite of adulthood, the innocent belief that "life will all come together" for us once we find and kiss the right person of the opposite sex.
Facts: Catholic News Services has rated this as A-III--adults only. The movie is rated PG-13. There are a lot of inappropriate sex jokes, two brief nude scenes and sex outside of marriage.