“Afternoon Delight” is a pretty stupid song on its own, but in the hands of Will Ferrell, it’s even stupider. Though it’s certainly been used as an easy punch line elsewhere, the ditty about daytime lovin’ wasn’t just thrown on Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’s soundtrack: Ferrell and co-stars Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner perform it in fabulous four-part harmony complete with skyrockets-in-flight noises. Not just the chorus, not just the opening lines—the whole godawful thing. Accentuating an almost-mushy talk about what love it, it’s one of several brilliantly silly scenes in a movie that could have easily gone the way of a Saturday Night Live skit writ too large and too long. With bad hair and worse suits, Ron (Ferrell) is the curiously adored lead anchor at San Diego’s No. 1 TV station of the ’70s. He’s also, as the opening voice-over informs us, “the balls”—until, that is, some broad named Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) infiltrates the boys’ club and aims to take control. Matters get even stickier when Veronica’s ambitions don’t fade after she and Ron start dating—a turn of events marked by a hilarious fantasy sequence in which an exchange of “I friggin’ love you!”s is followed by “There’s a perfect rainbow. Do me on it!” The irrepressibly antic Ferrell, of course, gets the bulk of the one-liners—nearly all of which hit the mark—but props should also go to Carell’s mentally challenged weatherman, Koechner’s oafish, possibly closeted sportscaster, and the film’s handful of often predictable but still funny cameo actors, including an Afro’d Tim Robbins as a public-broadcasting anchor. Ferrell co-wrote the script with director and SNL alum Adam McKay, and the pair gleefully include plenty of pre-cable-era wickedness: Note the flagrant littering, the way the news team unashamedly puts the moves on a female co-worker, and the line from Rudd’s character in which he admits that he was once in love with a woman who was “Brazilian, or Chinese—something weird.” True, a certain dog-punting gag may leave some tsk-tsking at the lengths Anchorman goes to for a joke, but just like a little midday nookie, when it’s right, it’s right.

—Tricia Olszewski