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Reviews by Phil Villarreal. Phil is an author, blogger and Twitterer.


Game and Wario
(Wii U, $40, Everyone)

Nintendo unleashes the crazy for this collection of so-stupid-they’re-amazing minigames, which range from shooting teeth-like armor off of marauding tanks by flinging nose-shaped arrows, taking spy photos of invisible poltergeists and picking up chicks while skiing down a mountain.

There’s no real point to the proceedings other than to max out the Wii U’s tablet controller-focused gimmickery and unlock more levels, game modes and Carrot Top-style props, so it’s good the minigames are an absolute blast either alone or with as many as four friends. On a console hurting for original software, Game and Wario is a welcome time-killer to keep the box from gathering dust until more games come along toward the end of the year.

Super Luigi U DLC
(Wii U, $30, Everyone)

Dipping its toes in an area which it has little experience, Nintendo cranks out a sizable expansion to the launch game New Super Mario Bros. U, putting the Scottie Pippen-like sidekick in the spotlight and challenging him with an array of high-intensity platforming levels that, like the downloadable levels for New Super Mario Bros. 2 on 3DS, are geared strictly for the hardcore crowd.

While not all of the new levels are imaginative and many just throw cruel twists into familiar tropes from the game proper, the DLC is a refreshing splash for those who know the base game inside and out. If you don’t own the original but want to check out the DLC without buying the main game, wait until Aug. 25 when the Luigi add-on gets a disc-based retail release of its own.


The Call
($23 Blu-ray, $18 DVD)

Halle Berry plays a hard-core 911 dispatcher who decides to do the rescuing herself rather than stay content to be the middleman. She helps a kidnapped teen (Abigail Breslin) stay alive and get her captor nabbed. While the story is as head-shakingly ridiculous as the likes of Cellular (2004), Berry’s character’s brutal, though improbable, determination keeps the intensity high. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo includes a commentary track from Berry and Breslin, deleted and extended scenes and a look at the filming of the stunts.

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Complete Series
($110 DVD)

The 1972-1985 cartoon – blessed with the style of pathetically low-budget animation, ludicrous writing and phoned-in voice acting I grew up with and adored – re-emerges from obscurity as a big box set ready to shake up the nostalgia. The 70s and 80s kitsch factor is off the charts here, and the gang of adorable street stereotypes is even more gloriously eye-rolling now than it was in its day. An hourlong making-of documentary and commentary tracks with Bill Cosby and his collaborators shed insight into what went into creating the amazing mess.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
($25 Blu-ray, $15 DVD)

Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi play a ridiculous, Siegfried & Roy-like Vegas magic act that’s threatened by the rise of the Criss Angel-ish “street magic” self-torture stunts performed by a freak played by Jim Carrey. In what will end up being one of his final roles, James Gandolfini steals all sorts of scenes as a condescending, deadpan casino bigwig who narrates one of the funnier fake commercials I’ve seen in a while. Alan Alda checks in as a has-been magician who helps the downward-spiraling Carell character get his groove back. The comedic talent on hand is amazing, and the script holds up its end of the act for the most part.

Screeners were provided by the publishers for review.

  • COED Writer
    Watches movies and games for work, then watches more movies and plays more games on his downtime. A movie and video game critic since 2001, Phil is the author of Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, Stormin' Mormon and Zeta Male. Twitter: @philvillarreal