movie music beatdown vol. 5: afternoon delight

Sometimes, there just has to be a cutline.

70s cheese classic Afternoon Delight by Starland Vocal Band has been used, re-used and used again in the world of pop culture about 50 times over. To try and throw all of those instances through the Wednesday MOVIE MUSIC BEATDOWN would take me forever — so we’re narrowing it to four times, the ones that stick out most to me.

Remember, we score from 1-10 in three categories and combine the scores to find out which movie used the song better. If you have suggestions for a song that has been used in more than one movie to see who used it better, you can always e-mail it in to me and we’ll discuss it in a future MOVIE MUSIC BEATDOWN, which we’re doing every Wednesday here through the summer.

Except for next Wednesday, I’m on vacation.

SONG: AFTERNOON DELIGHT (if you want to see why the 70s might have been weirdest time in pop culture history, just watch this entire video, then go have a smoke to compose yourself)

Movie 1: PCU (no video, unreal)

 

The scene: Port Chester University’s leading slacker, James Andrews, who we all know as Droz, or Ari Gold, lifted a Starland Vocal Band album from what he thought was the car of his arch-nemesis for who knows what kind of occasion. Then we find out minutes later the perfect use for it. To lock a hunch of stuffy college types in a room, steal their booze and put Afternoon Delight on a loop to torture them to the point they’ll jump out a window to escape. Score: 4

 

Appropriateness: If you use this song, you’re basically saying it’s universally accepted as the most grating, annoying song ever. That’s not that far off, but now the reference seems a little dated since it’s so recognizable in pop culture. Know what the top song of 1994 was when PCU came out? The Sign by Ace of Base. No. 2? I Swear. Even if you were filming in 1993, No. 1 was I Will Always Love You. All three of those are more annoying than Afternoon Delight. Let’s keep up with the times, people, especially when you’re trying to appeal to a younger generation with a college movie. Score: 2

 

The movie: The most underrated Hollywood college depiction of all time. Chances are your college experience was a lot more like Droz and Gutter than like Bluto and Otter. The little intricacy this movie picked up on that no one else ever has – nicknames. When you’re in college, you have nicknames for every group of people, every house, every teacher, every jerk and every hot chick on campus just like these people did. It boggles my mind how no other college movie has figured this out. Plus, it gave us the immortal line that everyone uses, but no one knows where it came from. I’m here to tell you, when you tell someone “Don’t be that guy,” you’re stealing from PCU. Score: 8

 

Movie 2: Good Will Hunting (still no video, almost impossible to believe)

 

The scene: Smart guy, smart @ss Will Hunting is being hypnotized and is supposedly revealing his most intimate childhood moments. Right when he gets to the good part, he starts in with “’cause we, can make a lotta love before the sun goes down . . .” and hits the chorus as everyone in the room realizes “Sh!t, this little tool just took us for the ride of our lives.” In a pleasant surprise, the song blares over the end of the credit roll. Because it wasn’t enough to hear Matt Damon sing it, we had to hear the real thing. It’s funny, but you definitely would not consider this scene in the top 20 memorable scenes/lines of the movie and isn’t in the league of “You’re suspect!” Score: 4

 

Appropriateness: Not too shabby. PCU was looking for the most annoying song ever, but GWH is looking for the one that makes the most people roll their eyes in unison. Whether this is it, I’m not sure, but what a test audience that would have been! Hmm, only 12 of 25 rolled their eyes at Rock Me Gently, but 19 of 25 rolled their eyes at Love Will Keep Us Together! We need to find one that makes at least 25 people roll their eyes. Score: 5

 

The movie: There are four movies in my lifetime I wouldn’t change one scene/word/actor/anything: Back to the Future, A Few Good Men, Field of Dreams and Good Will Hunting. It’s one of the top five or six movies of the 90s, the best decade of movie-making ever, and may go down as the most rewatchable movie of that time even when it’s edited on cable. It launched two of the most successful movie careers of my generation and showed the world that director Gus Van Zant can do mainstream just as good – or better – than he does independent. It’s nothing short of a treasure, whether Affleck and Damon wrote it or not. Score: 10

 

Movie (TV show) 3: Arrested Development

 

The scene: In the sixth episode of the wildly funny second season, the show constructed about 10 good jokes around the song, and even named the episode Afternoon Delight. It’s sung three different times under the continuously funny premise that the song isn’t really about ice cream, but sex. So when family members sing it together, it’s not the best message to send. Ironically, George Michael and Maeby never sing it together, or even Michael and Lindsay. While it never stops being funny, it does get a tad grating when Michael and George Michael do the joke. Score: 6

 

Appropriateness: This (2004) is when Afternoon Delight was starting to get a little overused. We’re already 10 years past PCU at this point, and seven past GWH. Even The Simpsons already used it at the point, so it wasn’t even safe on TV. And when it comes to catchy songs having abstract/misunderstood pop song lyrics, the line forms at the banana stand (Purple Haze, Losing My Religion, etc.). Maybe none of the misunderstandings would be as funny, but to me, incest isn’t very funny anyway, despite the dozens of TV shows in the last five years that have tried to prove me wrong. Score: 2

 

The show: I’m giving credit to a bunch of people on this, specifically former Record ad man Dan Bobeck, who basically tied me down and forced me to watch this show on DVD. I never watched it in first run even though my brother Erik raved about it. But yeah, once I did watch it, I agree – funniest show of the decade. I know I was one of them, but I don’t understand how people didn’t watch this. Score: 9.5

 

Movie 4: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy

 

The scene: In the quest to find the Holy Grail of love, the Action News team asks Ron what love actually is. He explains it by singing Afternoon Delight, and the guys chime in with their own takes on it. Eh. Score: 5

 

Appropriateness: The scene would have been funnier if Afternoon Delight hadn’t been used, as documented here, about a trillion times before. By the time we got around to hearing it here, it just played out like a copycat. The pauses in between bars is a nice touch, but overall it just seems tired and old, kind of like Judd Apatow’s career. Zing! Score: 3

 

The movie: Yup, I’m that guy. The one who generally doesn’t like movies with Judd Apatow’s name attached. I’ve got an open mind about it, I’ll watch anything that looks like a funny comedy. How else can you explain Miss March being in my Blockbuster queue? But when something isn’t funny, it isn’t funny. That’s Anchorman to me, a nice diversion, but in the end, not very funny. Score: 4

 

Decision: Good Will Hunting 19, Arrested Development 17.5, PCU 14, Anchorman 12. As it turns out, really no one uses this song very well because it’s been done so much, it just comes down to what the best movie/TV show is. So unless Pulp Fiction used Afternoon Delight, GWH is taking this title every time.

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