I’m not sure if the latest Vacation is a sequel, a reboot, or a remake, but whatever it is, something is missing. Rotten Tomatoes gives the original 93%, and this one a mere 25%. The new one has the same general storyline and crude humour, but in a misguided effort to refresh the story, the crude factor is turned up. The respective trailers show the difference in tone. By comparison, the original looks like a masterpiece of sophisticated comedy.
Maybe it’s just nostalgia. The ratings of the original and new version, posted below, are the same in many jurisdictions, though Quebec, the BBFC, and Australia felt a higher rating was required. However, there is also ratings creep, the well documented tendency of each classification to allow more mature content over time. In other words, the current 14A allows more crude materal than the 14A of twenty years ago. While this is not deliberate on the part of the agencies, they are required to keep up with social trends, so if we are more relaxed about crude humour than we used to be, then permitting more of it in the same age classification is reasonable. The new Vacation is cruder in absolute terms, but not much cruder in relative terms.
Whether more crude humour is a good idea is questionable. Box office returns have been fair at best, and some American critics have blamed the R-rated humour, pointing out that previous sequels were more family friendly. However, the similarly crude (but ultimately family values promoting) “We’re the Millers” did better box office than Vacation is doing. Perhaps the problem isn’t too much crude humour, but too little of anything else entertaining.