Hollywood's summer is crammed with comedy and romance, old friends such as Shrek, the "Toy Story" gang and the "Sex and the City" pals mixing with the latest from Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Steve Carell.
Sarah Jessica Parker jokes that "Sex and the City 2" (releasing May 27) is like a Hope-and-Crosby road movie. It takes Parker's Carrie Bradshaw and the rest of her buddies (Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon) to Abu Dhabi, where their stylish Manhattan ways clash with strict Middle East traditions.
Despite the exotic setting, Carrie and friends are the same old foursome, trying to make sense of their relationships and have a good time while they're at it.
"It just is an opportunity for the characters to be two years older, slightly wiser, maybe more curious about things that they didn't really think of before," Parker said. "The dynamic hasn't changed that much. It's just that they're two years older in the sort of natural way humans mature. Or not."
"Toy Story 3" (June 18) and "Shrek Forever After" (May 21) are fresh chapters to two of the biggest animated franchises ever.
The movies reunite their all-star voice casts, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as Woody the cowboy and Buzz Lightyear in "Toy Story 3," Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas as Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and Puss in Boots in "Shrek Forever After."
Billed as the franchise finale, the fourth "Shrek" movie spins an "It's a Wonderful Life" nightmare in which the ogre was never born, never met his friends and never married the love of his life.
"What I love is with Shrek and Fiona, it's their love story all over again. You get to watch these two characters fall in love all over again," Diaz said. "That's what was so beautiful and captivating in the first film. These two, and how they come to know they are for one another, and true love. You hope it does exist."
The playthings of "Toy Story 3" face their own nightmare - the prospect of winding up in storage in the attic or worse, discarded - now that their kid has grown up.
The movie carries on the franchise's clever premise that Woody, Buzz and their toy friends come to life when people aren't around.
"That's why people have reacted to the `Toy Story' movies over the years, because they can all tap into that feeling from when they were kids of wondering whether their toys were actually alive," said "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich. "My wife has told me that she used to sit on her bed with all her toys and say to them, `Please, please. I won't tell anybody if you come alive.
I'll keep it a secret. Please."'
Sandler teams with Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade and Rob Schneider for a comedy about five childhood pals reuniting as family men in "Grown Ups" (June 25). Ferrell joins Mark Wahlberg for "The Other Guys" (Aug. 6), the tale of a police accountant partnered with a tough street cop. Carell does double duty, starring in the live-action romp "Dinner for Schmucks" (July 23) and providing the lead voice for the animated tale "Despicable Me" (July 6).
"Schmucks" casts Carell as an IRS man with a strange passion - costuming mice in intricate dioramas - who's invited by a young executive (Paul Rudd) to a dinner where a prize goes to whoever brings the biggest idiot.
In "Despicable Me," Carell's character is an aspiring supervillain whose scheme to steal the moon is interrupted by three orphan girls aiming to adopt him as their dad.
Carell sees similarities between his two summer characters.
"Both of them sort of live on the fringes of society. They are essentially loners. They've carved out their world, they've chosen vocations that will satisfy them and make them happy," Carell said. "But in both scenarios, something is introduced into their world that changes them and changes their perspective."
Other comedy and romance highlights:
- "Nanny McPhee 2" (Aug. 20): Emma Thompson returns as the supernanny, pitching in for the family of an overburdened mom (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
- "Get Him to the Greek" (June 4): A record label up-and-comer (Jonah Hill) must escort an unruly rock legend (Russell Brand) from London to an L.A. gig.
- "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (Aug. 13): A slacker (Michael Cera) must take on seven evil ex-boyfriends to win his dream girl.
- "Marmaduke" (June 4): Owen Wilson provides the voice of the comic-strip Great Dane as he adjusts to a new life after moving to California.
- "Just Wright" (May 14): A physical therapist (Queen Latifah) falls for her NBA star client, who only has eyes for another woman.
- "Ramona and Beezus" (July 23): Beverly Cleary's children's best-sellers inspire this tale of a boisterous girl and her big sis (Joey King and Selena Gomez).
- "Going the Distance" (Aug. 27): A couple (Drew Barrymore and Justin Long) try to maintain a bicoastal relationship via Webcam and frequent-flyer miles.
- "Letters to Juliet" (May 14): A letter to Shakespeare's star-crossed lover stirs up the romantic lives of an American (Amanda Seyfried) and a Brit (Vanessa Redgrave).
- "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" (July 30): Talking pets duke it out as a feline mastermind plots to subjugate cats and dogs everywhere.
- "The Lottery Ticket" (Aug. 20): A young man (Bow Wow) who wins a $370 million lottery fends off greedy neighbors to collect his prize. With Ice Cube.
- "Step Up 3D" (Aug. 6): Dance goes 3-D in this music romance about street dancers in a showdown with champion hip-hop hoofers.
- "MacGruber" (May 21): Will Forte brings his "Saturday Night Live" soldier of fortune to the screen with an action comedy about a stolen warhead.