Review: ‘Unfrosted’

Jerry Seinfeld's Goofy Pop-Tart Comedy Is A Sugar Rush Of Fun

Blackberry, Flamin’ Hot, Air; there have been a lot of great films about recognizable brands lately, as Hollywood finds a new way to blend product placement into the narrative (just make the whole movie about the product!!!). But those movies are like bland store brand toaster pastries compared to Unfrosted, Jerry Seinfeld’s hilarious, farcical take on the creation of Pop-Tarts…the greatest food ever created, breakfast or otherwise. This goofy origin story is like the delicious frosting on top. It’s a sweet and tasty treat that you probably shouldn’t have and definitely don’t need, but are happy it’s there.

Seinfeld makes his directorial debut on Unfrosted, co-writing the script with the same team that penned his animated Bee Movie in 2007. Here, he imagines a highly-fictionalized breakfast cereal war between Kellogg’s and Post in the 1960s. The comedian plays Bob Cabana, a Kellogg’s employee whose gift is in creating new and successful breakfast cereals, the higher the addictive sugar content the better. Jim Gaffigan is his neurotic boss Edsel Kellogg III, while Melissa McCarthy is Bob’s colleague, ex-NASA scientist Donna “Stan” Stankowski, who sports a Prince Valiant haircut and an array of mismatched outfits.

Seinfeld really emptied out the Rolodex in the inspired casting of this one, with every single role both large and small filled by celebrity co-stars. Amy Schumer plays rival Marjorie Post, the wealthiest woman in the world and the head of Post cereal company. Hugh Grant brings a thespian’s flair to the role of Thurl Ravenscroft, the actor who played Tony the Tiger for more than fifty years. And that’s just a small taste of the perfect casting choices, which includes Christian Slater as an evil milkman, Bobby Moynihan as Chef Boyardee, plus Mikey Day, Kyle Mooney, and Drew Tarver as Rice Krispies mascots Snap, Crackle, and Pop. A jaw-droppingly flawless pair of cameos has Jon Hamm and John Slattery reliving their Mad Men glory days. To get a sense of how stupid Unfrosted can get, when Chef Boyardee, who sounds like the Swedish chef from The Muppets, hooks up with Thomas Lennon’s Harold von Braunhut, creator of the Sea Monkey, they create a living ravioli/sea monkey hybrid that runs rampant and turns rebellious. Peter Dinklage leads a vast milk criminal empire, and Dan Levy plays Andy Warhol, creator of Pop Art who lashes out against Pop-Tarts. Try not to laugh when the head of General Mills shows up dressed as an actual Quaker.

When Post nears the creation of a handheld fruit-filled breakfast pastry, Kellogg’s launches its own Top Secret race to beat them to the punch and into store shelves. This is a movie that contrasts the Pop-Tart battle against the space race and the threat of nuclear war, with President John F. Kennedy (Bill Burr) finding them all to be of equal concern…when he’s not being a lecherous creep in the Oval Office or suggesting a breakfast cereal called “Jackie O’s”.

The jokes are cookin’ right off the bat, with Seinfeld bringing his witty, self-aware style of humor to an assortment of topics. If you’ve come looking for anything factual here, you’re probably looking in the wrong place, but that’s not to say it’s a complete fabrication. Most of the gags have a kernel of truth to them, such as when Kennedy alludes to his affair with Marilyn Monroe, or when Adrian Martinez’s Tom Carvel is lampooned for putting himself in his own TV commercials.

Ultimately, Unfrosted is a sugar rush for those who are looking for something light and silly. The thing you come away with most is how much joy this extraordinary cast of funny people is getting out of it, and that feeling is infectious.

Unfrosted is streaming now on Netflix.

Travis Hopson
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.
review-unfrostedBlackberry, Flamin' Hot, Air; there have been a lot of great films about recognizable brands lately, as Hollywood finds a new way to blend product placement into the narrative (just make the whole movie about the product!!!). But those movies are like bland store brand...