Iron Man, Shrek, Edward Cullen and MacGruber - it must be the summer movie season.
More and more, summer means familiar names and faces, some from movies you recently saw ("The Twilight Saga: New Moon") and others from long-ago favorites like "The Karate Kid," being remade with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, and 1978's "Grease," being re-released with added sing-along subtitles.
Even "Robin Hood," the Russell Crowe vehicle and one of the season's most anticipated films, seems like a remake of sorts. The mythical hero has brand recognition, having been adapted for the screen countless times since the early 1900s with Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks and Kevin Costner, among others, stepping into the role.
As always, testosterone-fueled action flicks and comedies dominate the summer pack: Christopher Nolan's enigmatic "Inception" and Will Forte's "MacGruber" (based on his "Saturday Night Live" skits) will top many dudes' must-see lists. But there's also an unusual mommy-track of movies, including two artificial-insemination comedies ("The Switch" and "The Kids Are All Right") and a much-hyped documentary called "Babies" that could be this year's cuddly "March of the Penguins."
Here are the 30 must-see movies of the summer, from family fare to more grown-up pleasures - and probably some guilty ones as well.
ACTION, ADVENTURE AND FANTASY
IRON MAN 2 (May 7)
Robert Downey Jr. returns as good-guy munitions dealer Tony Stark, whose now-public identity as Iron Man is causing some problems. Gwyneth Paltrow again plays his fetching assistant, Pepper Potts; the cast of villains includes Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.
ROBIN HOOD (May 14)
Ridley Scott's long-awaited adventure film features Russell Crowe as the medieval freedom fighter and Cate Blanchett as Lady Marion. With William Hurt, Mark Strong, Danny Huston and rising British actor Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME (May 28)
Showing off the pectorals we didn't know he had, Jake Gyllenhaal lands the lead in this big-budget action-adventure about a young prince who must protect a mystical dagger. Based on the popular video game. Mike Newell ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") directs.
THE A-TEAM (June 11)
The lighthearted action series comes to the big screen with Liam Neeson as Special Forces team leader Hannibal Smith, Bradley Cooper as pretty-boy Templeton "Faceman" Peck and Sharlto Copley, the South African actor from last year's "District 9," as the wacky "Howling Mad" Murdock.
JONAH HEX (June 18)
Josh Brolin, Megan Fox and John Malkovich mix it up in a supernatural Western. Adapted from the graphic novel by pulp maestros Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor ("Crank").
KNIGHT AND DAY (June 25)
This action-comedy almost starred Gerard Butler, Adam Sandler or even Chris Tucker, but Tom Cruise landed the role of a slippery secret agent on a dubious mission. That's Cameron Diaz clinging to the back of his motorcycle.
THE LAST AIRBENDER (July 2)
M. Night Shyamalan writes, directs and produces this fantasy film based on the Nickelodeon series. Like "Clash of the Titans" and the upcoming "The Green Hornet," it's getting an after-the-fact 3-D makeover.
INCEPTION (July 16)
Warner Bros. is being stingy with plot details, and the trippy trailer - full of tilting floors and midair fisticuffs - provides no answers. But some tidbits have leaked out: Leonardo DiCaprio plays a corporate spy who steals dreams, and director Christopher Nolan is comparing it to "The Matrix." With Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine.
SALT (July 23)
Filmed partly on Long Island, this espionage thriller stars Angelina Jolie as Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent accused of being a Russian spy. With Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
JUST WRIGHT (May 14)
Queen Latifah stars, but it's Common who's making the big leap from sidekick roles to romantic lead. She's a physical therapist named Leslie Wright, he's a hunky NBA All-Star; Paula Patton makes it a love triangle.
MACGRUBER (May 21)
Will Forte's split-second "Saturday Night Live" skits, which spoof the improbable action-series "MacGyver," have spawned an entire movie. Look for Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer and two "MacGruber" veterans, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph.
GROWN UPS (June 25)
Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Stony Brook native Kevin James play childhood friends who reunite with their families in tow. Sandler cowrites; Dennis Dugan ("You Don't Mess With the Zohan") directs.
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS (July 23)
The annual Dinner for Extraordinary People is actually a cruel joke: Who can bring the biggest loser? A successful businessman (Paul Rudd) thinks he's found a winner (Steve Carell).
THE OTHER GUYS (Aug. 6)
Will Ferrell plays a gun-shy forensic accountant reluctantly assigned to a tough-guy partner (Mark Wahlberg). Also with Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan and Dwayne Johnson. Directed and co-written by Adam McKay ("Step Brothers").
FOR THE FAMILY
SHREK FOREVER AFTER (May 21)
The fourth and reportedly final installment in the animated "Shrek" franchise finds the green ogre in midlife crisis and longing for his carefree days. As the saying goes: Be careful what you wish for. With the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas.
TOY STORY 3 (June 18)
It's been 15 years since the original, and little Andy is heading to college. After Woody, Buzz and the toy gang are donated to a chaotic day care center, they plan their escape. Look for some new characters, including Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty) and Barbie's Ken (Michael Keaton).
DESPICABLE ME (July 9)
This computer-animated comedy features Steve Carell as the voice of Gru, a second-fiddle supervillain constantly outsmarted by snotty young Vector (Jason Segel). The voice cast includes Russell Brand, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Danny McBride and Julie Andrews.
THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE (July 16)
Named after the famous segment from Disney's "Fantasia," this action film stars Nicolas Cage as a wizard who arrives in Manhattan and recruits a local college student (Jay Baruchel) to battle a nefarious villain (Alfred Molina). Look for an update on the magical-mop sequence.
RAMONA AND BEEZUS (July 23)
Two adventure-prone sisters (newcomer Joey King and Disney Channel veteran Selena Gomez) embark on a mission to save their family's home. It's the first feature-film based on Beverly Cleary's enduring children's book series, which launched in 1968 with "Ramona the Pest."
TEENS AND TWEENS
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE (June 30)
Another "Twilight" film, another director - this time it's David Slade, whose edgy indie drama "Hard Candy" helped launch Ellen Page's career. Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner continue their supernatural love triangle.
BEASTLY (July 30)
Cute, popular Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) crosses Goth-girl Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) and finds himself transformed into a gruesome creature who must learn the true meaning of love. Also with Vanessa Hudgens and Neil Patrick Harris.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (Aug. 13)
Indie darling Michael Cera stars as a rock-band bassist who falls for rollerblading Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). His challenge: to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends. Based on the comics by Bryan Lee O'Malley.
MOVIES FOR MOMS
BABIES (May 7)
This documentary follows four babies around the world - Mari in Tokyo; Bayarjargal in rural Mongolia; Ponijao in Opuwo, Namibia; and Hattie in San Francisco - from birth to first steps.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (July 7)
Two teens (Mia Wasikowska of "Alice in Wonderland" and Josh Hutcherson of "Cirque du Freak") track down the sperm donor who sired them. Their lesbian parents, played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, aren't thrilled. Co-written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko ("Laurel Canyon").
THE SWITCH (Aug. 20)
A single gal (Jennifer Aniston) gets pregnant, thanks to a charming donor (Patrick Wilson). Or so she thinks. With Jason Bateman, Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis.
SEQUELS, REMAKES AND SPINOFFS
SEX AND THE CITY 2 (May 27)
When Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and new hubby Mr. Big (Chris Noth) hit a rough patch, she bumps into an alluring old flame. Which one? Hint: He's played by John Corbett. With Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK (June 4)
Russell Brand reprises his "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" role as a dissolute rocker; Jonah Hill plays his hapless handler. Look for Sean Combs as a record mogul.
THE KARATE KID (June 11)
This overhaul of the 1984 crowd-pleaser replaces Ralph Macchio with tweener Jaden Smith (son of Will and Jada) and puts Jackie Chan in the sensei role originated by Pat Morita. Despite the film's title, the new setting is China and the sport is kung fu.
GREASE SING-ALONG (July TBD)
Not quite a remake, but not merely a reissue: It's the 1978 musical "Grease," starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, with on-screen lyrics to encourage audience participation. Could be the summer's most cost-effective profit-maker.
NANNY McPHEE AND THE BIG BANG (Aug. 20)
Emma Thompson is back as a nanny with magical, if unorthodox, child-rearing methods. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as a mother managing her brood while dad is away at war. With Rhys Ifans and Maggie Smith.
Plus 10 added summer movie attractions
KITES (May 21)
This star-crossed romance is supposedly the widest-ever Bollywood release. Look for Brett Ratner's shorter, youth-oriented version, "Kites: The Remix," the following week.
SOLITARY MAN (May 21)
Michael Douglas is a womanizer with a past; Jesse Eisenberg is a college kid who befriends him.
ONDINE (June 4)
Director Neil Jordan turns in a fairy tale of sorts, with Colin Farrell as a fisherman who nets a beautiful creature (Alicja Bachleda).
SPLICE (June 4)
Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley are genetic scientists who create a whole new life-form. But she sure grows fast.
JOAN RIVERS - A PIECE OF WORK (June 11)
This documentary is an up-close look at the nipped-and-tucked comedian.
THE KILLER INSIDE ME (June 18)
Casey Affleck plays a small-town sheriff with a mean streak. Based on Jim Thompson's classic noir novel.
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (July 2)
Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist reunite as detectives (and unlikely lovers) in this sequel to the Swedish art-house hit "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."
LIFE DURING WARTIME (July 23)
Todd Solondz's sort-of sequel to "Happiness" revisits the whacked-out Jordan family. With Allison Janney and Ally Sheedy.
EAT PRAY LOVE (Aug. 13)
The bestselling travel memoir hits the screen with Julia Roberts, James Franco, Billy Crudup and Javier Bardem.
THE EXPENDABLES (Aug. 13)
Last names will suffice for this all-star action flick: Lundgren, Rourke, Statham and Stallone, who also directs and co-writes. With Jet Li, Steve Austin, Randy Couture and Eric Roberts as - what else? - the villain. - Rafer Guzmán