These are definitely a series of films that almost literally ask you to shut your brain off at the door and have a good 2 hours of fun. Although I didn't have as much of that fun with Paul, I certainly did with Shaun, Fuzz, and now World's End. I always enjoy the supporting cast in these films, as they are always written as equal characters and not just throwaway, one-dimensional people. They have backstories with the leads and goals of their own. We may not always see their story arcs through all the way as deeply as they deserve, but they are included consciously by the writers.
This movie had a main cast of six. Each character had a history with the other, and it all came out smoothly enough that it was fun to watch as old personal issues get drummed up as this rag-tag crew of aging men set out to relive their failed glory of 12-establishment pub crawl in their home town. It was difficult to swallow that these older, established men could be so easily convinced by Pegg's deadbeat character to play along for the adventure, but you have to kind of go with the flow a little. Each of the team has an established job and is doing well for himself, and aside from a few minor hang-ups we can all relate to (one is divorced, one feels trapped in fatherhood, etc) they have all turned out as normal adults. Which, of course, was never the plan in their youth, and Pegg's character won't have it. He manages to convince them all to meet up for a road trip back home for the pub crawl to end all pub crawls.
The team is easily convinced to go triumph over their greatest collective failure: 12 pubs, one night. The joke at the beginning is that they are all simply 20 years older now, and this seems like an exercise in futility. Then things get batshit crazy. The movie takes a turn I won't spoil too much of here, but the first big reveal in a bathroom was definitely the greatest scene in the entire movie. Well shot and well paced. And the aftermath was surprisingly believable, making the next hour a hell lotta fun.
The problem with a movie like this is it just gets too big for its plot devices. The build-up and reveal in Hot Fuzz seemed forced, but backtracked clues from throughout the film in a fun cut-to sequence ("a great big bushy beeaarrrrd!!!") made it easy to swallow. The last couple of scenes of the movie are the kind of reveals that make you sit there going "Whuuuuut…!?!" almost wishing the movie ended with unanswered questions. Remember season one of The Walking Dead where a scientist actually explains zombie-ism to the cast (sorry, walker-ism)? How necessary was that?! Completely "un."
I did enjoy World's End. I'm not sure how I'm sounding at this point, but it was a fun time at the movies, as they say. There were definitely several laugh-out-loud moments as the cast gets drunker and drunker while the movie progresses. Their conversations go just as yours do when you drink too much—around and around until someone yells "What the fuck are we arguing about!?!?" Good times.
Although I don't think this team will ever top Shaun of the Dead, they hit it out of the park on their first try. I would rank this one third, after Shaun and Hot Fuzz.
What is your list in order of "fave" to "not as fave" (or dare I say, "Best to Worst") of this family of films?