Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Review: Jerry Seinfeld’s “Unfrosted” is Silly Fun, A MAD Magazine Romp Not to Be Taken Seriously


I see this morning critics– bloggers, especially — are killing “Unfrosted.”

Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy about the invention of the Pop Tart is silly, it’s fun. It’s not to be taken seriously. It’s right out MAD Magazine movie parodies. It’s a goof.

It’s 1963 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Kellogg’s and Post cereals are in a space race to make an after school snack. Jim Gaffigan is Edsel Kellogg, who’s inherited his family’s company. Amy Schumer is Marjorie Merriweather Post, who inherited hers. Seinfeld is Bob Cabana, who works for Kellogg and is trying to make this undeveloped snack come alive. (There was really a man like this, but his actual name was Post. He wasn’t related to the Post family.)

Melissa McCarthy comes in as a rocket scientist who used to work for Kelloggs. She returns to help the company.

There are dozens of inside jokes, guest cameos, and bits. Jon Hamm and John Slattery play their “Mad Men” characters in a hilarious bit that hits its target perfectly. There’s an insane funeral for a cereal executive that concludes with a woman in a pill box hat slicing a banana. There’s also a bit with an actor playing President Kennedy — with a spot on accent — suggested they call the snack “Jackie O’s.”

Hugh Grant plays Thurl Ravenscroft, the same name as the actor who in real life was the voice of Frosted Flakes’ Tony the Tiger. Looking constipated throughout, Thurl leads a January 6th type insurgency at the Kellogg’s HQ wearing the horned helmet of the real life sicko who attacked the Capitol. It’s pretty funny if you weren’t involved in the real life event.

Many things don’t work. There’s a really awful reference to astronaut Gus Grissom, who died in the famous Apollo accident — which was well after 1963-4 anyway. A lot of things here don’t line up historically, it’s just a mishmash of the 60s. There’s an animated ravioli. Who knows why? There’s a little Asian kid at the beginning and end of the movie– again, what’s the point?

If you’re over 40, maybe 50, this movie is for you. It’s a Baby Boomer thing. I laughed out loud many times. You get it or you don’t. But “Unfrosted” is totally made for Netflix and streaming and the small screen. No one is suggesting it’s a theatrical release, a candidate for Cannes, or the next Luca Guadagnino effort. It’s just funny. That’s it.

Get over it.

Production values are excellent, loved the cinematography, the cartoon costumes — particularly the Froot Loops toucan — are excellent. I loved the Cabana’s 60s set house and the reference to William Henry Taft. When the movie’s over, slide it under your bed like a copy of MAD Magazine, and forget about it. One day it might be worth something.

A couple of random thoughts: it’s curious that the long knives are out for Seinfeld, star of a very beloved TV series. I see people griping that he’s a “billionaire.” The urge to tear down heroes now extends this far. What’s wrong with everyone? Also, interestingly, the trades — Variety and the Hollywood Reporter — got a kick out of it. At least they have a sense of humor.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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