- Alternate Character Interpretation: In-story and out. The message of the story is how we look at people as mirrors rather than windows.
Margo growing up in the movie had few friends, and ran away from home five times on impulse. She would also always leave clues just to toy with people she left behind. Later during high school she seemed to act quite impulsively, and liked to live on the edge as she described it. When she found out her boyfriend cheated on her she had no problem cutting off him and her friend group, getting a quick revenge, then leaving town again... 
- Q could be read as a romantic adventurer or an obsessed tragic figure. Q even claims that Captain Ahab is the hero of Moby Dick. (That said, he outright admits he never actually read the book and just wanted to get his final paper done, so he probably went off the website summary and wrote from there; a time-honored tradition among people who leave things until the last minute.)
- Others go as far as seeing Q as a pathetic creep who emotionally neglects his actual friends for the sake of the off chance of scoring with his stalking victim.
- Real life sociopaths have said that they can relate to Margo pretty well since she, herself, can be identified as a sociopath.
- Base-Breaking Character: Margo. Despite her Hidden Depths and Beneath the Mask identity, many people find her true self whiny and pretentious. Others think she's a sad, lonely Woobie deep down, while others think she's a bit of both.
- Crosses the Line Twice:
- At the prom afterparty, Ben sets a county record for longest keg-stand. Radar describes him as some kind of "autistic savant."
- During the road trip, Radar is bought a T-shirt with a Confederate flag on it that reads "Heritage not Hate." Radar is black.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment : Radar, who's black, getting a t-shirt with a confederate flag on it that says, "Heritage not Hate", was hilarious in the book, which came out in 2008. Fast-forward to 2015, the year the movie came out... and also the year when the controversy over the Confederate flag, and whether it stands for racism or not, has reached violent levels of protest and conflict. Suddenly the scene isn't so funny.
- Narm: At one point during the road trip, the gang nearly crashes, which causes Q's narratorial voice to launch into a dramatic and flowery soliloquy about death - which would have a lot more bite if the near-crash wasn't caused by swerving to avoid a cow. The film omits the monologue and plays the scene purely for Black Comedy.
The film adaptation
- Actor Shipping: The onscreen Quentin/Margo pairing has predictably led to Nat Wolff/Cara Delevingne shippers, helped along by some flirty-looking backstage photos.
- Awesome Music: The film is well-scored with an indie rock soundtrack like that of The Fault in Our Stars.
- "Smile" by Mikky Ekko is used really well in the trailer.
- Relationship Writing Fumble: Unlike the book, Lacey and Ben don't have much chemistry here. Many viewers felt Lacey had more chemistry with Q than she did with Ben, or than Q did with Margo. This was possibly a holdover from an earlier (and, according to John Green, far worse) version of the script which did in fact change the Official Couple from Q and Margo to Q and Lacey.
- So Okay, It's Average: At least according to critics, with the general consensus being that it was a sincere and charming film that failed to set itself apart from other teen dramas without a story conceit as strong as that of The Fault in Our Stars.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Fans of the book didn't take well to the changes made to the plot (Q attending prom, his friends leaving him in Agloe after his outburst, Lacey and Ben getting together on the roadtrip instead of beforehand, etc.).
- Tough Act to Follow: The film may be "okay" at the worst, but regardless, it gets compared to The Fault in Our Stars a lot, with many complaints that Paper Towns can't quite live up to TFIOS. It might partially just owe itself to the fact that ''TFiOS'' is generally considered to be John Green's best book along with Looking for Alaska.