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    Friday, May 24, 2024

    Seinfeld's Pop-Tart comedy is '60s nostalgia for 8-year-olds

    Jerry Seinfeld has long marveled at the invention of the Pop-Tart, the kitschy breakfast pastry that revolutionized the American breakfast in the 1960s. He funnels his awe for the product into the scattershot '60s nostalgia comedy "Unfrosted," a movie made for 8-year-olds who are also somehow 65. If Kellogg's can go ahead and invent those, too, then we'd really have something on our hands.

    Seinfeld writes and directs this manic joke-a-thon, which takes on not only the Pop-Tart but all manner of '60s culture and ephemera: JFK, Walter Cronkite, the moon landing, Andy Warhol, Jack LaLanne, X-ray specs, Sea-Monkeys, Silly Putty. (The script, credited to Seinfeld and three others, is like an early draft of "We Didn't Start the Fire.")

    It's not so much concerned with the actual launch of the Pop-Tart as it is as the fantasy version of events in Seinfeld's childhood brain. He treats Battle Creek like the playground paradise of his dreams, and stops just short of having canals of milk running through the city streets.

    But depending on one's tolerance for cereal humor, "Unfrosted" quickly wears out its welcome, and the jokes become soggier the longer it carries on.

    Seinfeld plays Bob Cabana, an exec at Kellogg's who discovers rival cereal company Post's plans to manufacture a handheld toaster pastry in the early 1960s. Thus begins a war to make it to stores first, a space race to grocery aisle shelves, with market share and mouths on the line.

    Jim Gaffigan plays the head of Kellogg's, Amy Schumer plays the evil queen of Post, and Melissa McCarthy is a NASA scientist enlisted to help with the creation of the Pop-Tart. Meanwhile, a roll call of comedians and comedic actors — Sebastian Maniscalco, James Marsden, Max Greenfield, Fred Armisen, Cedric the Entertainer, Mikey Day, Kyle Mooney, Bill Burr, Bobby Moynihan, Thomas Lennon, Jack McBrayer, Sarah Cooper, Tony Hale — show up in bit roles, and Hugh Grant plays a put-upon thespian who lowers himself to play Tony the Tiger.

    "Unfrosted" is as light as a feather: Characters are barely characters, scenes are barely scenes, everything is just an excuse for a joke or to get to the next joke. It's a low-stakes affair, not meant to be overanalyzed, kind of like a Pop-Tart. Think about it too much and you're doing it all wrong.

    But the humor is all surface level with nothing underneath, and there's little in "Unfrosted" to hang onto past its inherent silliness. After an initial sugar rush it's a hard crash, and all you end up left with is crumbs.

    ———

    'UNFROSTED'

    Grade: C

    MPA rating: PG-13 (for some suggestive references and language)

    Running time: 1:36

    How to watch: Netflix

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