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“Paper Towns”: The latest from top tier scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber

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It’s no secret around these parts that I’m a big fan of screenwriting team Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. In fact, I’ve already gone on the record once to say that I think they’re the most underrated writers in the business. Hollywood doesn’t realize what they have in Neustadter and Weber, while awards season voters have so far snubbed them multiple times. That won’t last forever though, and while this week’s release of Paper Towns is more of a bid for the mainstream, they’ve certainly found a niche adapting John Green’s work, along with bringing Young Adult literature to a more mature crowd. One day, that could pay off in Oscar attention, but for now, they’re merely proving again and again how great they are at their jobs.

Quickly, for those unaware, Paper Towns is the second big screen adaptation of a Green book, with Neustadter and Weber having done brilliant work last year writing The Fault in Our Stars. This one stars Nat Wolff as high school student Quentin looking for the now disappeared popular girl Margot (Cara Delevingne) after she re-appears in his life one night. They used to be friends, but drifted apart, until now…and suddenly, she’s gone. He piles in a car with his friends and tries to figure out where she’s gone to. Life lessons ensue. Jake Schreier directs, while the rest of the cast includes Austin Abrams, Halston Sage, Justice Smith, and more. This isn’t the tearjerker that The Fault in Our Stars was, but it’s likely to be another example of how these two are YA masters and just top shelf screenwriters in general.

I’ll say it again…it’s a crime to me that these two are still without Academy Award nominations. They were very close to a Best Original Screenplay citation for (500) Days of Summer but just missed, while recent opportunities and Best Adapted Screenplay for The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now were undercut by tiny awards campaigns, which didn’t allow for a weaker Adapted category to get an infusion of new talent. Paper Towns seems more of a long shot for attention, but they could very well be back in the race again when their next Green adaptation Looking for Alaska hits screens in the next couple of years. That one is supposedly the most baity and once upon a time had Sarah Polley eyeing the project as a filmmaker, so thats should say something.

Going forward, they have plenty coming up aside from the aforementioned Looking for Alaska, including two projects I can not wait to see them tackle. One is an adaptation of The Disaster Artist, which is a meta look at the making of the film The Room (which I could write a ton about but won’t), as well as an adaptation of The Rosie Project, which could be the next great romantic comedy/dramedy. There’s also Me Before You, Rosaline, and any number of other things in development, so Neustadter and Weber are certainly keeping busy. Luckily, they ace their projects consistently, so the more they write, the better cinema is for it.

I’m not going to stop reminding folks that these two are among the best scribes in the business until they have their due. That’s one of the perks of these articles…every so often you can get into a bit of advocacy. This Friday, you can see their latest script on the big screen when Paper Towns opens, so do not to miss that opportunity. In the coming years, they’ll have a ton more to share with us, and if the best is still yet to come from Neustadter and Weber, that means there are some phenomenal films in the works, so stay tuned. For now though, this weekend is your next opportunity…

Be sure to check out Paper Towns, in theaters everywhere tomorrow!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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