review

Unfrosted film review: Jerry Seinfeld’s Pop-Tarts movie a silly and inoffensive comedy

Headshot of Wenlei Ma
Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Jerry Seinfeld's Pop-Tarts movie, Unfrosted.
Jerry Seinfeld's Pop-Tarts movie, Unfrosted. Credit: Netflix

Did you ever hear of a more ridiculous idea than Jerry Seinfeld making a movie about Pop-Tarts? So ridiculous that it could actually work?

Unfrosted is the over-the-top, absurd and highly fictionalised “true story” of how Pop-Tarts came to be invented. What truth there is in Unfrosted lies in the fact that Kellogg’s and its main cereal rival, Post, were in a race to bring to market a sweet shelf-stable breakfast pastry. That is undisputed.

Everything else in Unfrosted is basically made-up and highly exaggerated for maximum comedic effect, including a piece of sea monkeys-filled raviolo that becomes sentient and goes rogue. That obviously did not happen.

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Nor was there a mob of pissed-off mascots who feared obsolescence rioting through Kellogg’s HQ, with Hugh Grant in Tony the Tiger costume as their ringleader. And the real-life Marjorie Post, who had retired by 1963 when Unfrosted took place, never colluded with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to get around a sugar blockade.

As for the sinister milkmen cartel that threatened its opponents by making them run a gauntlet of cattle gas? Well, we don’t think that’s real but we wouldn’t put it past Big Milk.

Jerry Seinfeld's Pop-Tarts movie, Unfrosted.
Jerry Seinfeld's Pop-Tarts movie, Unfrosted. Credit: Netflix

The point is, Unfrosted is silly and dumb, but it’s meant to be silly and dumb. You don’t expect it to take anything seriously and it really, really doesn’t.

Seinfeld, who co-wrote and directed the movie stars as a Kellogg executive tasked with the mission, for which he recruits Donna (Melissa McCarthy), a NASA scientist. They then assemble a crackpot team to try and beat Majorie Post’s (Amy Schumer) efforts to do the same.

Along the way, the film throws up a gazillion cameos and supporting turns from a bevy of beloved stars including Bill Burr, James Marsden, Jim Gaffigan, Max Greenfield, Peter Dinklage, Christian Slater, Bobby Moynihan, Jack McBrayer, Dan Levy, Tony Hale, Maria Bakalova, Fred Armisen and Cedric the Entertainer.

Hugh Grant is doing his best, utterly delightful impression of a stuck-up high-art British thespian trying to educate the hoi polloi about Shakespeare, while wearing a tiger costume while Jon Hamm and John Slattery reprise their Mad Men roles in a send-up pitch meeting.

There’s a general story arc but Unfrosted is mostly a collection of gags and sketches, some of which work and some of which don’t, and some of which are based on nostalgic American references (Chef Boyardee, Schwinn bicycles, Jack Lalane) that have lower resonance for Australians.

Jerry Seinfeld's Pop-Tarts movie, Unfrosted.
Hugh Grant’s transformation into an arch villain continues - and we’re here for it. Credit: Netflix

Considering Seinfeld has spent the past few weeks on the promo trail, giving his thoughts on the state of comedy (strangled by the extreme left!) and movies (they’re dead!), he’s setting himself up to be scrutinised.

Unfrosted is not a disaster, but it’s also not the second coming of edgy comedy. It’s mostly Seinfeld’s brand of inoffensive humour. Case in point, this line of dialogue (and imagine it in Seinfeld’s voice), “The moon, leave the moon alone. You look up, it’s there, it’ll always be there, don’t pick at it”.

If there’s anything that approaches an edge, it’s the deliberate evocation of the January 6 riots in the mascots revolt – considering Donald Trump is a whisker away from the presidency again, some might argue it’s distasteful. Sort of.

Coming in at a brisk hour-and-a-half, Unfrosted is a frivolous and stupid movie, but it’s also quite funny, especially Grant. As long as you know that going in, there’s nothing offensive about it.

Rating: 3/5

Unfrosted is streaming on Netflix

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