Jerry Seinfeld’s Pop-Tarts film is part of a wider, now legitimate, trend in movies

Headshot of Wenlei Ma
Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story will be released on May 3.
Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story will be released on May 3. Credit: John P. Johnson / Netflix

Not long ago, the idea of a Pop-Tarts movie would be utterly ridiculous. Why would anyone spend two hours watching a story about a sugary breakfast pastry you wouldn’t deign to eat?

The upcoming comedy started life as a joke Jerry Seinfeld once told during a stand-up set. Now, it’s starting to sound even more ludicrous.

Except, Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story is part of a wider trend in which the history of familiar products, especially nostalgic ones, is what passes for original storytelling in movies.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

It would be easy to be churlish about it, to turn your nose up at what seems like little more than branded exercises, but the truth is, some of these movies have actually been great.

The more clearcut origin stories such as The Founder (McDonald’s), Blackberry, Tetris, The Beanie Bubble, Flamin’ Hot (Cheetos) and Air (Nike) have intense human drama and heightened stakes.

It helps that they tend to involve outsized personalities whose ambition and gumption is what led them to strive for the near-impossible in the first place. Those people tend to not be boring, and if they were, there’s a screenwriter handy to punch up that dialogue or embellish a personal element.

Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story - (L to R) Jim Gaffigan as Edsel Kellogg III, Jerry Seinfeld (Director) as Bob Cabana, Fred Armisen as Mike Puntz and Melissa McCarthy as Donna Stankowski in Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story. Cr. John P. Johnson / Netflix  2024.
Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story will be released on May 3. Credit: John P. Johnson / Netflix
Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story - (L to R) Jim Gaffigan as Edsel Kellogg III, Jerry Seinfeld (Director) as Bob Cabana, Fred Armisen as Mike Puntz and Melissa McCarthy as Donna Stankowski in Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story. Cr. John P. Johnson / Netflix  2024.
Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story will be released on May 3. Credit: John P. Johnson / Netflix

And there’s a built-in audience already invested because they’ve eaten a Maccas cheeseburger, worn those Air Jordans, bought a Beanie Baby and have owned a Blackberry. It’s another form of intellectual property and audiences like what they already know.

The trick is to give them a new experience connected to the familiar.

The more abstract branded stories, which tend to be toy-based titles such as Barbie and The Lego Movie, start from a place of playful experimentation. No wonder there are movies in the works for Barney, Polly Pocket and The Sims.

So, yes, the Pop-Tarts movie is coming our way, in a month, and it may even be good.

Certainly, it has an insanely stacked cast that either saw something in the script they liked, wanted to work with Seinfeld who directed and starred in it or, at the very least, wasn’t embarrassed to be involved with a now-legitimate sub-genre.

The trailer dropped over the Easter long weekend and it couldn’t even fit all the famous faces that are listed in the credits.

Joining Seinfeld in chunky roles are Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer, Jim Gaffigan and Hugh Grant but the longer list also includes Dan Levy, Christian Slater, Max Greenfield, Peter Dinklage, Jack McBrayer, Bobby Moynihan, Tony Hale, Jon Hamm, Maria Bakalova, Dean Norris, Cedric the Entertainer, Bill Burr (as JFK no less!) and James Marsden.

Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story - (L to R) Jim Gaffigan as Edsel Kellogg III, Jerry Seinfeld (Director) as Bob Cabana, Fred Armisen as Mike Puntz and Melissa McCarthy as Donna Stankowski in Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story. Cr. John P. Johnson / Netflix  2024.
Famously not grumpy person, Hugh Grant. Credit: John P. Johnson / Netflix

That’s one hell of a premiere party.

The story — if that even matters — is set in 1963 and is about the rivalry between the US’s two biggest cereal companies, Kellogg’s and Post to see who could first bring to market a shelf-stable breakfast pastry.

Unfrosted is on Netflix on May 3.

Comments

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 19-04-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 19 April 202419 April 2024

World on edge as Israel hits Iran in missile strike.