Unfrosted Is About as Funny as a Bowl of Soggy Cornflakes

Dept. of Snap, Crackle, and Schlop


Milk and cereal. For most, it is the backbone of the “most important meal of the day.” Shaping the American breakfast is big money, and cereal companies like Post and Kellogg’s, battle fiercely to dominate store shelves and stomach shares. Netflix’s Unfrosted shows how the rivalry between these breakfast giants in 1963 gave rise to another beloved American breakfast icon, the Pop-Tart.

Jerry Seinfeld is Bob Cabana, a top Kellogg’s company man in Battle Creek, Michigan. Cabana is tasked with finding the next big breakfast breakthrough. In his quest, he steals former colleague Donna ‘Stan’ Stankowski (Melissa McCarthy) away from her job at NASA, promising her that the glory of space exploration pales in comparison to revolutionising how America’s children eat their morning meal.

To that end, Cabana and Stan assemble a crack team of innovators, including two child geniuses with a penchant for rooting through trash. Their collective efforts give birth to two things: Pop-Tarts, which is genius, and a living sea monkey-cum-ravioli boy, which is disgusting. This abomination was probably supposed to be Unfrosted’s version of Slimer, but it had none of the Ghostbusters villain’s charm. 


But that’s not all. Because Unfrosted is chock full of far too many ideas.

As Kellogg’s race to beat Post heats up, both companies are unwittingly pulled into the Cold War. Yes, THAT Cold War. Cabana and Stan court Cuba to choke off the sugar supply to Post, while boss lady Marjorie Post (Amy Schumer) sells her soul to Moscow. Even President Kennedy gets involved in the Cereal War and throws his weight behind Kellogg’s. But Cabana and Stan still face threats from within and without. 

Like in any big company where the little guy gets ignored, the mascots at Kellogg’s have long been unhappy. Hugh Grant plays Thurl Ravenscroft, a British thespian who voices Tony the Tiger, Kellogg’s famed feline. Ravenscroft leads an insurrection of outraged mascots to storm the Kellogg’s building and prevent the FDA from approving Pop-Tarts, proving that it’s never too soon to have a January 6 spoof. 

The best thing about Unfrosted is the mafia milkmen. This secret cabal sees Pop-Tarts as the ultimate threat – a breakfast item that doesn’t need milk. After slyly threatening Cabana to desist, they kidnap and subject him to bovine torture. Christian Slater and Peter Dinklage absolutely shine in their roles and I’d have been happy if the movie focused entirely on these menacing milkmen and their machinations. 


Unfrosted seems determined to shed any historical accuracy. Cereal heiress Marjorie Post was one of America’s richest women, and she was also a true humanitarian. The script and Schumer do Marjorie a grave disservice by portraying her as a psycho corporate head.

Speaking of historical figures, Dan Levy has a weird cameo as trigger-happy Andy Warhol. I still haven’t forgiven him for Good Grief, so this is another strike against Levy. 

The century-old rivalry between Kellogg’s and Post is practically Shakespearean, so it’s a pity Unfrosted fails to capture that. Instead, we get bland corporate frisson that veers into bland sexual tension between Edsel Kellogg the Third (Jim Gaffigan) and Marjorie Post. Those wanting a better understanding of the true story of Kellogg and Post should watch the History Channel’s The Food that Built America. This excellent documentary covers the epic battles between founders Will Kellogg and C.W. Post. 


Jerry Seinfeld, who makes his directorial debut with Unfrosted is as sprightly as ever. And in typical Seinfeld fashion, there’s also certainly no shortage of frantic energy, vivid colours, vintage cars, and rapid-fire gags. This cereal box is also jam-packed with as many comedians and cameos as humanly possible. So you’d think Unfrosted would be funny, at the very least. 

Yet, for all that it has going for it, Unfrosted is about as funny as a bowl of soggy cornflakes. Even with all its comedic potential, this movie has little fun or fibre. Watching Unfrosted feels like biting into a Pop-Tart and finding it has no filling. It doesn’t snap, crackle, or pop. It’s not “Grrreat!” in any way or form.

That said, Unfrosted did get one real laugh out of me. Just the one. I enjoyed the scene where a couple of mad ad men (Jon Hamm and John Slattery) present their Pop-Tart advert pitches to Cabana, Stan, and their boss. It was a rare moment of mirth, watching Hamm reveal racy advertisements with flourish while spouting steamy taglines like “his pleasure is also hers.” Now, which parent wouldn’t rush to buy the Jelle Jollie Sensual Pop-Tart for their kid?

Unfrosted is now streaming on Netflix.

Dr Matthew Yap is a writer, editor, and educator. He graduated with a PhD in Literature from Monash University, where he also taught Film Studies. Matthew thinks watching good shows is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If watching TV is like eating, Matthew enjoys an international buffet of programmes across genres, from Sense8 to Alice in Borderland and Derry Girls.

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