Melissa McCarthy, Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan star in “Unfrosted.” Courtesy of Netflix

“Unfrosted” may be the Platonic ideal of the Netflix movie: ephemeral, edible, enjoyable, forgettable.

It’s essentially Jerry Seinfeld inviting everyone in his Rolodex to come on over for an extended hang to parody the current craze for trademark biopics – you know, those corporate biographies of beloved/nostalgic brands: “Air,” “BlackBerry,” “Tetris,” “Flamin’ Hot,” et al. “Unfrosted” gives them the Mad magazine treatment – lightly roasted with a lot of nuts.

While this is hardly the real story of how Pop-Tarts were birthed upon the world by the Kellogg’s breakfast cereal company in 1964, it’s also not NOT the story. There was a rivalry between Kellogg’s and Post Cereals, both of Battle Creek, Michigan, and there was a Marjorie Merriweather Post, a visionary business executive and one of the few female CEOs of her day. But she almost certainly did not look or act like Amy Schumer, who plays her in “Unfrosted.”

Nor was there an Edsel Kellogg (Jim Gaffigan), the hapless heir to the cornflakes empire, or a go-getter Kellogg’s product development VP named Bob Cabana (Seinfeld). And Thurl Ravenscroft, who voiced Tony the Tiger, was not a pretentious British thespian – but that hardly matters when it’s Hugh Grant in the striped suit.

Hugh Grant as Thurl Ravenscroft in “Unfrosted.” John P. Johnson/Netflix

Directed by Seinfeld and written by him with Barry Marder (“Bee Movie”) and “Seinfeld” scribes Spike Feresten and Andy Robin, “Unfrosted” is breezily silly stuff, very much in the star’s treehouse of early ’60s TV and pop culture references. An early scene takes place at the (fictional) Bowl and Spoon Awards – “the night that cereal salutes itself” – where Kellogg’s cleans up in such categories as “Easiest to Open Wax Bag” and “Best Use of Niacin.” But the Post CEO and her chief minion (Max Greenfield) have a breakthrough product in R&D: a jam-filled pastry called Country Squares. (That part is true, actually.) Desperate to beat Post to market, Edsel and Bob launch an effort to come up with a “breakfast dingus” of their own. (Also true, more or less.)

Melissa McCarthy is on hand as a loose-cannon breakfast scientist (not true), who brings in a crack team of celebrity “taste pilots” (didn’t happen) to help develop the rival treat; they include exercise maven Jack LaLanne (James Marsden), ice cream purveyor Tom Carvel (Adrian Martinez), bike manufacturer Steve Schwinn (Jack McBrayer) and Chef Boyardee (Bobby Moynihan). Not true x 4, but you’re getting the sense of the cheerfully crowded stateroom that is this movie. “Unfrosted” treats its cameo appearances as a game of whack-a-mole, and while there are some that are just too good to spoil, I can let on that Christian Slater is quite scary as the chief milkman enforcer for the Organized Milk cartel – this movie’s version of the Teamsters – and comedian Bill Burr as President John F. Kennedy wears his Boston accent and fraudulent toupee with civic pride.


Christian Slater as milkman Mike Diamond and Jerry Seinfeld as Bob Cabana in “Unfrosted.” John P. Johnson/Netflix

The hit-to-miss joke ratio is decent – about three gags land for every one that gets stuck in the toaster – and the writers don’t throw away a single idea, so if the bit with the escaped sea-monkey ravioli doesn’t make you laugh, the throwaway reference to a non-sugar sweetener called Carcin-O-Sweet or the suggested cereals for the Russian market (Borscht Loops, Count Vodkula) probably will.

In their enthusiasm to skewer everyone and everything, the filmmakers sometimes push the envelope. One scene features Grant’s Thurl Ravenscroft dressed as the QAnon Shaman leading rioting cereal mascots past police barricades to stop the (FDA) certification of Pop-Tarts. Too soon? With a grimly effective Jan. 6 documentary (“The Sixth”) coming to video on demand the same day as “Unfrosted,” just maybe.

But that’s taking Jerry’s little backyard barbecue more seriously than it warrants. (That he can make a comedy this edge-free while publicly complaining that Wokeism is ruining everything is a sign we’re in worse shape than he thinks.)

Kellogg’s did eventually get Pop-Tarts to grocery stores first, where they sold out in two weeks. “Unfrosted” suggests that Nikita Khrushchev and the Cuban sugar crisis (a real thing) may have played a part. And this antic comedy confection – made with “double the sugar and triple the gluten,” to quote one of the characters – tastes g-r-r-r-reat! (Well, more like pretty good.)

Ty Burr is the author of the movie recommendation newsletter Ty Burr’s Watch List at

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.