Unfrosted – A Romp Through the Seemingly Fictional Breakfast War of 1963

In his TV show, Seinfeld was obsessed with breakfast, and here in his feature film debut as star, director, co-writer, producer Seinfeld distills all that into 93 pretty clever minutes.

The opening sequence sets the stage, with the scenic designers working overtime to capture an idyllic view of Battle Creek, Michigan in 1963. Cut quickly to Tony the Tiger cutting a commercial, with Hugh Grant inside the costume showing understandable consternation at the gig. Seinfeld has stated his ongoing affection for Grant and it is understandable why.

The film is packed with comedians, including Melissa McCarthy, Jim Gaffigan, Amy Schumer and Christian Slater,

As a top executive at Kellogg’s (a cereal entrepreneur as it were), Seinfeld’s discovery of rival Post’s upcoming secret weapon comes with a couple quick nods to both Michelangelo and Alfred Hitchcock.

Indeed, as reported by Walter Cronkite (an excellent Kyle Dunnigan) “Post has invented a shelf stable, heatable, fruit pastry breakfast product.”

The moment of discovery is akin to the scene in “The Rights Stuff” when Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer (clearly the odd men out in that cast) burst into see the President and declare, “We know what it’s called – Sputnik.”

The astronaut theme of the 60s is further referenced both with Seinfeld’s quick trip to NASA and Kellogg’s press conference introducing the equivalent of a space race for Pop Tarts. A subsequent wink at “The Godfather” is likewise clever, but a reference to “Apocalypse Now” falls flat.

Seinfeld has pointed out that it is only comedians and specifically stand-up comedians that are empowered today to push the edge of the envelope. He has pointed out that Larry David has been grandfathered in, and so David’s success with “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is because he’s allowed to cross that line. If a stand-up comedian bombs by stepping across the line he is the only one to take the blame, affirms Seinfeld. But for an actor to deliver that same line within the context of a TV show or film, the potential blowback on many people is too great, so sadly it never gets done.

Much like Steve Martin, who quit at the height of a stand-up career, Seinfeld quit his eponymous TV series before it got old. Both men have immense talent, and both banter to great effect in the recent Steve Martin documentary. Seinfeld has said that the reason he constantly works is to keep striving to improve. Martin is the same.

Seinfeld has said he may develop 10 great jokes, but by the time you see them either in his former TV show or presumably in his new movie, they have been vetted by focus groups. The result is about a three out of 10 hit rate. Seinfeld admits that is also a pretty good batting average.

“Unfrosted” does not quite hit it out of the park, but the film is certainly an amazing triple.




Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.