Unfrosted movie review & film summary (2024)

But I digress. “Unfrosted” doesn’t make much of anything from its subject. It doesn’t care enough to communicate, even in the most basic and lighthearted sense, why it exists, which is something you’d never wonder about, had the movie been overseen by somebody like Joe Dante (“Gremlins”) or Adam McKay (back when he was making films like “Step Brothers” and “Anchorman” that were content to be just comedies) or the grandaddy of modern film parody, Mel Brooks. Seinfeld keeps going for Jerry Lewis or Looney Tunes-style surreal-absurd visual humor, like showing a spy camera barely hidden in the strands of a wet mop that’s actively being used to clean a floor, or having one of the early Pop Tarts prototypes escape from a tank and scuttle around like an edible Pikachu. But he doesn’t have the eye, the timing, or the anarchic spirit to pull it off, and whenever he tries, he achieves the eerily inhuman and cold sort of mastery that Boston Dynamics robots display in dance videos.

There are fleets of vintage mid-century cars, whole neighborhoods retrofitted with period-correct signage, and throngs of background performers wearing outfits that would’ve fit into an early season of “Mad Men.” The circa-1963 clutter on office desks has been manifested with the kind of detail that Andrew Wyeth brought to the textures of wheat fields and farmhouses. It’s evident that everyone who worked on the production cared deeply about their specific department. But the finished product has no apparent passion, even of the silly or self-deprecating kind. It doesn’t even seem to love the consumer products, logos, and corporate mascots it gathers in one cinematic place as if trying to create the mid-20th-century consumer products answer to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” or “Ready Player One.” 

The dumpster-style accumulation of Wikipedia citations is nonsensical. For no apparent reason, Bob Cabana gathers a team of historical figures associated with legendary American brands, including Sea Monkeys creator Harold von Braunhut (Thomas Lennon), fitness entrepreneur Jack LaLanne (James Marsden), and bicycle magnate Steve Schwinn (Jack McBrayer). None of them are funny, no matter how much they mug and pop their eyes. Thurl Ravenscroft (Hugh Grant), who voiced Tony the Tiger, the Frosted Flakes mascot, is also a character, as are other Kellogg’s and Post cereal mascot performers. JFK is represented (Bill Burr does a solid impersonation) along with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (a glowering Dean Norris) and Walter Cronkite and Johnny Carson (both played by Kyle Dunnigan). But none bear much relation to actual people or events, nor (more importantly) to anything amusing (JFK is reduced to his sexual obsessions, and we’re told that he got the Doublemint Twins pregnant). If the pointlessness is the point, it doesn’t come across.