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December 20, 2004


Insert "Afternoon Delight" joke here

starland vocal band

One song has emerged from history as the go-to track to use in your movie's soundtrack to suggest '70's pop kitsch, and that song is "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band. The song's writers (who also co-wrote "Take Me Home, Country Roads" with John Denver) say they are enjoying their 1976 tune's renaissance, even if it is always used as a joke. Let's review the song's appearances:

  • In 1994's PCU, Jeremy Piven locks the dean and some other administrators of the university in a room with the stereo stuck on "Afternoon Delight" playing very loudly. The administrators eventually jump out the window to escape
  • "Afternoon Delight" appears briefly in Boogie Nights in 1997
  • Then later that year it was featured more prominently in Good Will Hunting in what was probably the only genuinely funny moment in the movie: Matt Damon is pretending to be hypnotized by some psychologists who are struggling to understand his rough genius, and he segues from generic psychobabble about his mother into some "Afternoon Delight" lyrics, then bursts into song on the "We could make a lot of lovin' 'fore the sun goes down" line
  • A brief appearance in this year's Starsky & Hutch
  • Maybe Will Ferrell thinks this song is just endlessly hilarious, because he uses it in his next movie (also 2004) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. This usage shows that the song has now become a joke unto itself: during a conversation about women and dating or something, the news team breaks into the chorus of "Afternoon Delight" in four-part harmony. Then they go back to their conversation. This is probably the lamest usage of this song: simply referring to the existence of this song doesn't really count as a joke
  • Then last night's episode of Arrested Development, which might be the funniest show on TV, and is definitely the weirdest, is actually titled "Afternoon Delight". Jason Bateman and his little 13 year-old niece sing "Afternoon Delight" with a karaoke machine at an office holiday party. Apparently they aren't familiar enough with the song to realize what it's about, and the hokey melody is deceptively innocent. Anyway, they get to the "And the thought of lovin' you is getting so exciting" line and Jason Bateman starts to figure it out, is horrified, and cuts the music. The song makes a brief re-appearance at a second office holiday party when Portia de Rossi does the exact same thing with her young nephew, on the same karaoke machine. A later joke involves a misunderstanding between Jason Bateman and his aging hippie uncle about what afternoon delight actually is, with the uncle mistaking it for a brand of marijuana. So instead of having sex in the middle of the day with Jason Bateman's mother, he gives her a pot brownie, and she goes nuts. The full comedic capacity of this song has probably been reached

Last night's use of "Afternoon Delight" was part of a very structured set-up that didn't just rely on the existence of this song for the laugh, but still, I think it's time to move onto a different '70's pop song for these kinds of jokes.

categories: Movies, Music, TV
posted by amy at 10:01 AM | #

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