Paranoid Park is both a novel by Blake Nelson and an indie Film of the Book directed by Gus Van Sant. It tells the story of a 16-year-old skateboarder - unnamed in the novel, but given the name Alex for the film - who tries to fit in with the skater crowd and accidentally kills a security guard while trying to board a train. The author has said that the book is a kind of retelling of Crime and Punishment in a young adult fiction setting. The novel and film take place in Portland, Oregon, United States.
- Adults Are Useless: The only adults featured are either oblivious to Alex's depression, or, in the Detective's case, pretending to care about him to get him to confess.
- Alpha Bitch: Jennifer.
- Anachronic Order: Alex tells his story out of order.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jennifer.
- Bittersweet Ending: Alex never gets to confess his crime to anyone, and nothing really changes, but he finds a friend in Macy and starts to develop feelings for her.
- Break the Cutie: Alex.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Alex is a pretty normal kid who probably never did anything worse than drink a few beers in his life, but the one night he decides to venture to Paranoid Park to hang out with the "streeter" kids, he ends up accidentally killing a security guard, promptly fucking up his life for good.
- Although, technically speaking, he does get away with it
- Dawson Casting: Notably averted, as with most Gus Van Sant films - all the actors are roughly the same age as their characters.
- The Film of the Book
- Manipulative Bastard: In the book, the detective lies about his parents getting divorced when he was a kid to earn Alex's trust, which almost works, until Alex finds a "happy anniversary" card in his car.
- Never Trust a Trailer: One of the biggest complaints about the movie is that the trailer makes it seem as though the movie is going to be a mystery-thriller, but when you actually watch the film it couldn't be any more different.
- Race Lift: In the book, the detective is Caucasian. In the movie, he's Asian.
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: averted; Alex stumbles over his words and does not have a particularly sophisticated vocabulary in his narration, as he says, he "didn't do well in Creative Writing".