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Review: 'Unfrosted'

I am a big fan of Jerry Seinfeld.  Although I was late to the party by a couple of years (despite the urging of all my friends) I will say that when I did finally catch up, I knew what all the begging and pleading and arm-twisting was all about. 

There wasn’t a single episode that wasn’t funny.  It was one of the best comedy sitcoms of all time, bar none.

Having said that, I was all in when I heard about Jerry Seinfeld’s debut feature comedy film which also marked his directing debut.  Here was a man who knew comedy and had been around long enough to absorb some of the best comedy directing chops from some of the most talented people in the business. 

The premise of the movie was appropriately silly, and something right up Seinfeld’s alley — a movie about the invention of the Pop Tart.  There was an all-star cast that included some of the top names in the business, including Melissa McCarthy, Jim Gaffigan, Hugh Grant, Amy Shumer, and Seinfeld himself in the starring role.

How could it miss?

Well, the good news is that it doesn’t, entirely.  A lot of Unfrosted is pretty much what you’d expect considering the premise and cast. It’s funny.  Maybe not exactly laugh out loud funny from start to finish, but it is, at the very least amusing and worth seeing.

It works on several levels.  First, the completely fabricated story about the creation of one of America’s favorite breakfast foods.  What’s real is that it was indeed one of Seinfeld’s favorite breakfast foods when he was a kid, as he has pointed out in multiple TV interviews about the movie.

A movie about Pop Tarts, you ask?  Yes.  That’s exactly what this is.  And that, in itself, is funny. 

Also funny, is the rivalry between two corporate food giants, Kellogg’s and Post. The winner-take-all-at-all-costs attitude reflects rivalries in the corporate world as well as the world of politics.  It’s a back-stabbing game of spies, lies and anything it takes to win. 

I won’t go into the details of the plot except to say that, among other things, it involves two children dumpster diving the trash receptacles of the warring companies, cleverly sampling the many failed attempts to develop what will become America’s number one toaster treat.  While this may sound awful, it is also funny.  They turn out to be cereal connoisseurs who can spot a winning recipe when they taste one. 

Hugh Grant as Tony the Tiger, a serious British actor walking around in a ridiculous tiger costume and unintentionally creating the famous “They’re Grrrrreat!” line is funny.

So where does Unfrosted fail?

It’s hard to say, except to say that it generates a lot of smiles and nods but not a lot of belly laughs.  Is it Seinfeld’s unfamiliarity with moviemaking as opposed to hit TV series making?  Possibly.  You can’t fault him for trying, though. 

The writing and direction aren’t bad.  At times, Unfrosted swings for the fences such as when it does a lengthy parody of the events of January 6th.  While that might seem llke taboo territory even for a Seinfeld project, it works, much like the crazy humor we enjoyed in his TV series.  The scene involves a small army of corporate mascots including Hugh Grant’s Tony the Tiger, who sports Buffalo horns like the ones worn by the QAnon Shaman Jacob Chansley during the infamous Capitol Hill riot.

That’s admittedly funny.

As stated, Unfrosted isn’t entirely unfunny.  It’s just perhaps not as funny as you might expect, and expectations run high when one of this generation’s funniest comedians takes a shot at making a comedy movie.

Let’s keep in mind that while Jerry Seinfeld is a comedy legend in the world of standup and TV shows, he’s a first-time movie director working with his first feature length film script.  To his credit, he gets a lot of things right, bearing in mind that he is breaking new ground in his career.  That said, his legion of fans will enjoy the movie, and hopefully he’ll be back with something even funnier for us all the next time around.

Meantime, enjoy Unfrosted, and know that you’ll probably be stopping to pick up some Pop Tarts on your way home.


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