Unfrosted review – Jerry Seinfeld delivers a surreal toast to Pop-Tarts

Unfrosted review – Jerry Seinfeld delivers a surreal toast to Pop-Tarts

Standup veteran Jerry Seinfeld makes his directing debut with this decent family comedy that puts a surreal twist on the history of Pop-Tarts, one of the US’s most beloved snacks: the sheer goofiness and disposable pointlessness are entertaining.

Seinfeld created the film with co-writers Spike Feresten, Andy Robin and Barry Marder, the same writing team that worked on Bee Movie, the animation that Seinfeld starred in, produced and co-wrote in 2007. Unfrosted doesn’t quite have the flair of Bee Movie, but there’s a steady stream of excellent gags, creating a rising crescendo of silliness similar in effect to Seinfeld’s own distinctive falsetto-hysterical declamation at the moment of ultimate joke-awareness. There are also nice supporting roles and cameos, including an extraordinary dual walk-on from Jon Hamm and John Slattery, recreating their ad exec Mad Men personae Don Draper and Roger Sterling.

Seinfeld plays Bob, an executive for Kellogg’s in the early 1960s, working (of course) on breakfast cereal, whose genius, he says, is that “you’re eating and drinking at the same time with one hand”. He works with Edsel Kellogg III (Jim Gaffigan), a descendant of the founder, and Donna Stankowski (Melissa McCarthy), a Nasa scientist seconded to Kellogg’s to develop its top-secret project: a jam-filled rectangular pastry comestible unit that is going to be the next big thing in breakfast food.

The company is in a fierce contest to get its idea into America’s homes first, before its deadly rival Post, the cereal company headed by Marjorie Post, played by Amy Schumer. While the space race rages, they are all in the fight of their lives as they invent Pop-Tarts.

The comedy is not quite innocent, because almost every gag has something seductively knowing about it. When the Kellogg’s team have to ask President Kennedy for a favour, he keeps erupting with irritation: “Did you just ask me what I can do for you? Didn’t you hear my inauguration speech?” The president tells them his wife has given him a great idea for a breakfast cereal called “Jackie-Os”; it isn’t until much later that they realise this doesn’t make sense because his wife is surely called Jackie Kennedy? But they conclude simply that the president must have meant something like Cheerios.

Added to this, there is some bizarre business about Bob having to wear 27th president William Howard Taft’s old morning suit in the White House because he had no other clothes and we get an outrageous sight gag about Ed Harris as John Glenn’s appearance from the smoky wreckage in The Right Stuff. As a whole, it’s not exactly a masterpiece, but amiable and funny in a way that’s much harder to achieve than it looks.

Source: theguardian.com