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Punch Buggy (Ye with a Bullet) Reviewed by Leo London

Fandom and opinions on popular culture run rife in today’s world leading to some of the most heated and impassioned debates. Whether it be the question of Tupac or Biggie, Star Wars or Star Trek, Marvel or DC, these debates pervade both our real-world lives and those we see on screen. From High Fidelity and Pulp Fiction to Ready Player One, there is certainly something that audiences find captivating about characters passionately defending their favorite pop culture icons.

Punch Buggy (Ye with a Bullet) takes this idea and runs with it. The fuel for its fire? The debate over Kayne West’s (or Ye’s) top album; is a question that is sure to spark debate in many viewers—provided they are from the target demographic. The two opinions we are privy to are those fighting for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Graduation. The corners are fought naturalistically; rattling off referential arguments: song titles and a few lyrics. While this dialogue feels fully fitting—perhaps even easily confused for a transcription of a real conversation—neither side fights with the fire required to ignite this debate in the heart of viewers who do not already hold a strong opinion.

Sure, if I was an advocate of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I would easily be able to conjure up an image of greatness alongside my arguments. However, I have no allegiance to either album; keeping the conversation at arm’s length. Not only that, but the choice of albums for discussion falls far from the contemporary consciousness; after all, both hail from the distant past of Kanye’s musical career; 2007 and 2010 respectively. Perhaps the inclusion of one more polarising recent record, like ye, The Life of Pablo or Kids See Ghosts, would provide a more interesting counterpoint tapping into generational divides and shifting musical tastes. After all, the bright-eyed, hopeful Kanye West of 2007 is vastly different from the broken and controversial Ye of 2023.

The debate then slides seamlessly into the question of nomenclature; Kanye or Ye? This pop-culture hangup seems far less relevant or interesting to the contemporary world than Kanye’s more polarising existence in the public eye—from his political allegiance and antisemitism to his private life. Of course, I can understand side-lining these for the more PG debate of his name, which spirals into the film’s abrupt, aggressive, and sinister climax.

While this climax appears to draw inspiration from scenes like Marvin’s death in Pulp Fiction, given its abrupt nature, I couldn’t help but feel that the punchline lacked the necessary build-up. This was mainly due to stylistic limitations—after all, the film takes place entirely within one static frame peering through the windshield as the duo yammer back and forth, with the same two trees passing by every few seconds. The notable lack of music, editing, cinematography, and other cinematic devices leaves the entire film resting on the power of the dialogue, which, as I have already discussed, is going to land with varying levels of success depending almost entirely on the audience’s immersion in the Kanye fandom.

Other stylistic elements also stick out as obscure. From the choice to make the film’s title notably smaller than that of the creator’s name or the credit of the film to the use of Western-inspired southern guitar to close out a film that was entirely about Hip-Hop culture.

Ultimately, Punch Buggy is a film that will spark one question in audiences: “What was your favorite Kanye album?”; a question which, of course, will only enrapture a select audience. Beyond that question, the film’s slow pace, repetitive, simple animation, and small scope leave but scraps for other audiences to enjoy. Subscribe my YouTube channel

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