The trailer for Paper Towns just recently birthed itself into our universe, and you can check it out below:
Paper Towns, as the trailer so helpfully reminds is, is a book written by John Green. Who’s this John Green character, you might ask? He’s the same dude that wrote “The Fault in Our Stars,” the novel/movie about how cancer is really bad. Which it is. I think we’re all in agreement on that one.
Now, I’ve read Paper Towns (and loved it, and even wrote an exhaustive review/essay about it right here), and I can tell you that the trailer does a pretty good job of synopsizing the story. “Dude obsessed with weird girl, weird girl takes him on a late-night adventure, weird girl poofs, dude tries to track down weird girl.” It’s a simple premise that allows for a lot of character nuance, and the novel is a fascinating exercise in duality that I HIGHLY recommend.
But we’re not here to talk about books. Yuck, books. Books are stupid and old and made of paper. LET’S TALK ABOUT MOVIES MOTHERFUCKER! YEEEOOOWW!
So here’s what I thought about the trailer: I didn’t love it.
For one, the actor they picked for the main character (“Q”) seems to be some kind of teenager-shaped mandroid. I don’t know if the flat affect he speaks with was some kind of director choice, or comes down to capability, but he rocks that glassy Brent Spiner tone through the entirety of the trailer. And since the trailer leans on his voiceover (it doesn’t explain anything through its images, really), the entire trailer is permeated with blah. There are no high notes, no pauses. He sounds like a juvenile delinquent who just got popcorned to read three paragraphs of “The Great Gatsby” in junior-year English class. Yeah, he’s reading it, but you can tell he would really rather be selling crushed up caffeine pills to the greasers.
The truly odd thing about the trailer is that everyone speaks with a low, sterile inflection. Even Margo Roth Spiegelman, who is supposed to be the end-all be-all deconstruction of Manic Pixie Dreamgirls, doesn’t seem to be very manic or pixieish. “Ex-boyfriend,” she mumbles through what must be a large bite of turkey sandwich after Q’s not-so-subtle inquiry about her significant other. She then stares at him in subdued wonder, like a humaniform robot looking at a giraffe for the first time.
THEN, as his friends shuffle onscreen, they all talk THE SAME WAY. There’s a point in the trailer when (I think) Q is talking to his friend Ben, but it sounds like it’s coming from the same person because they’re both intoning that no-emotion groan-talk. Their voices are literally indistinguishable.
The visuals in the trailer look fine, and there’s a certain dynamism to a few shots (particularly the bouncy supply grab in the liquor store) that inject some life into the proceedings.
Another small (completely forgivable) flaw is the appearance of the leads – this is just a personal nitpick, but Q and Margo Roth Spiegelman look nothing like how they’re described. Q is supposed to be just kind of a thin everyman (straddling nerd status), but here he’s a fairly built, good-looking guy. He’s supposed to be an outcast, and this guy looks like the captain of the football team. Margo Roth Spiegelman, on the other hand, was supposed to be dark-haired and sort of interesting-looking. This actress just looks kind of . . . Everygirl, Iowa. A nitpick, certainly, and not worth panty-twisting or huge emotional explosions. MAN UP, BOBBY.
But, to bring it all back, the real question is this: does the trailer make you want to see the movie? For me, no. If I hadn’t read the book, I’d have no interest in this flick. As it stands, I’ll probably just watch it On Demand in the comfort of my own beer-stocked Batcave.
My only chance of seeing this in the theater is if my wife drags me to it – which, actually, shit. Is a real possibility.
But who cares what random internet-guy thinks. What did you think of the trailer?