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Unfrosted

Jerry Seinfeld's 'Unfrosted' Is Underbaked and Unfunny

By Lindsay Traves | Film | May 3, 2024 |

By Lindsay Traves | Film | May 3, 2024 |


Unfrosted

Noted cereal enthusiast and comedy giant, Jerry Seinfeld, has returned from a life of sitcom cameos to co-write and direct the faux tale of the creation of the Pop Tart. ‘Unfrosted’ is the directorial debut of the notorious comedian, and even with every comedy tool at his disposal, Seinfeld’s turn behind the camera popped out a silly and unfunny stretched-out gag that’s more of a collection of cameos than a series of jokes.

Seinfeld leads as Bob Cabana (perhaps loosely based on William Post), a golden boy at Kellogg’s who holds the business together with his quick-witted and clever approach to marketing, product development, and union busting. When the company’s chief rival, Post (led by Amy Schumer’s Marjorie Post) unveils a secret goo-stuffed pastry based on Cabana’s old, failed research, the team at Kellogg’s leaps into high gear to beat Post to market. In their race to the shelves, Bob reignites an old volatile partnership (so he says, but they seem to work great together) with Donna Stankowski (Melissa McCarthy) and the pair brings together a crack team of geniuses to craft the perfect pastry. What follows is a string of cameos and bit parts that, for the most part, are exciting comedians coughing out jesty one-liners that don’t make contact with the funny bone.

It’s compelling in a year after one filled with scrappy capitalist love stories to have one similar based on a faux version of reality. It’s maybe playing the same game as Weird with a knowing approach to intentionally skirting reality, and perhaps Barbie by allowing space for blatant absurdity within the walls of the companies making ubiquitous products. But where those leaned into the absurdity for clever jokes, Unfrosted feels like an undercooked collection of bits begging for a narrative thread and deeper themes. The cameos, some of which are being cleverly guarded, are fun to a point and for the most part, pay off for one major universe-creating gag that’ll be a treat for a subset of fans. Otherwise, they are forecasted and shouted so much so, you barely even have time for a “Leo pointing” meme.

Most of the comedians feel at home in this brightly lit 1960s ode to Americana, but Seinfeld seems out of place. His signature sarcastic smarm doesn’t gel with the plucky tone of this world. Schumer, McCarthy, and Jim Gaffigan work much better, leaning into the silliness of it all and forging their own character quirks. Schumer embodies a version of Futurama’s Mom and McCarthy showcases her usual subtle vulgarity, both adding a bit of edge to this polished planet.

If there’s something to love beyond seeing all your favorite joke people in one room, it’s the art. A special bouquet of flowers for whomever crafted the gorgeous and cute faux packaging for the in-world products. Each reflects not just the real-life 1960s American branding but also the tone of the film’s world, and they stand out as interesting props you’d want sitting on a fandom shelf.

Seinfeld’s Netflix feature is, unfortunately, a low stakes and low on laughs single bit. Its bright and sunshine-y tone feels like the first act of something more compelling, and even its silly political intersection is so low on commentary, it feels flat and safe. (I’m not asking for political commentary in this movie, believe me, it just becomes another reminder of the film’s lack of edge). Conflicts like a menacing milkman and a mascot uprising could have added some oomph to the flick, but they pass by so quickly in favor of character appearances and poorly thought-out jokes. In the end, it was nice to see Jerry sitting at a coffee shop, though.

Unfrosted is on Netflix May 3, 2024