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"Unfrosted": Satire in the Era of Tolerance

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Photo:  Films like "Unfrosted" become "cult" over the years, growing an army of devoted fans. Source: Netflix.
Photo: Films like "Unfrosted" become "cult" over the years, growing an army of devoted fans. Source: Netflix.

On February 10, 2024, William Post, the former vice president of Keebler and known inventor of the super popular American breakfast snacks, Pop-Tarts - cookies with sweet filling inside, which are heated in a toaster - passed away at the age of 96. William Post was a respected figure in the corporate world of America, the epitome of the American Dream: at 16, he began working at Keebler as a janitor, and by the age of 21, he headed one of the company's bakeries.

Less than three months after Post's death, the premiere of the film "Unfrosted" took place on the Netflix platform, dedicated to this historical invention. The director, one of the screenwriters, and also the performer of the main role was 70-year-old Jerry Seinfeld, a star of the popular sitcom "Seinfeld" in the early 90s.


Seinfeld's directorial debut on Netflix, where "struggling pilots" are regularly picked up and given significant budgets, continues the tradition of the eponymous sitcom, which critics called "a show about nothing." "Unfrosted" is the story of the Pop-Tart brand, filmed as a comedic biopic. Stories of brand creation rarely become successful products themselves: "BlackBerry" and "Air: The Story of the Great Leap" were not particularly successful with audiences and critics. Seinfeld's film was no exception.

The story of the creation of Pop-Tarts cookies resembles a comedy in the style of the popular trio of comedy directors Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, and Jim Abrahams from the eighties, who consistently filmed parodies of genre films: police series ("Police Squad!"), disaster films ("Airplane!"), spy movies ("Top Secret!"), and so on, with a mass of famous quotes from the films that became the subject of parody. Seinfeld's film resembles a parody of everything at once, and as a result, it's hard to understand exactly what the authors are mocking.

As one of the characters in the film named El Azucar aptly remarked, "it's very difficult to make people laugh," and "Unfrosted" is a testament to that.

As satire on corporate culture and consumer society, "Unfrosted" is too toothless. Unlike Zucker-Zucker-Abrahams films, which freely joked about gender, race, LGBT, people with disabilities, drugs, politics, etc., "Unfrosted" tries not to offend anyone. The story of the Pop-Tart brand itself, as Seinfeld himself confessed, was chosen because all the characters are already dead and cannot sue the film's authors.

The selection of jokes and quotes seems random, absolutely not playing on context. At the same time, the humor of the film is very simple: if Khrushchev appears on screen - they joke about vodka, if Kennedy - about Marilyn Monroe. And if there's a riot, the authors parody the Capitol Hill storm. This is what satire looks like in the era of tolerance.

On the other hand, a comedy that is not too clouded by intellect and meaning is the perfect way to relax in the evening in our difficult times filled with stress. Moreover, the film has an undeniable advantage - the cast.

The lead roles are played by well-known comedic actresses Melissa McCarthy ("Spy") and Amy Schumer ("Trainwreck"), as well as the thoroughly stellar Brit Hugh Grant ("Gentlemen"). And in the episodes, we observe a whole constellation: from "Game of Thrones" star Peter Dinklage and Jon Hamm from "Mad Men" in the role of, of course, an advertising genius, to the semi-forgotten by modern viewers Christian Slater ("True Romance").

But the main thing is that despite all its shortcomings, such slightly crazy films like "Unfrosted" become "cult" over the years, growing an army of devoted fans.


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