2010 Summer Movie Guide: What to See This Season

From action flicks to rom-coms, what's on the menu at the marquee this summer?

June 1, 2010 — -- It's hot outside. Theaters, they're cold.

Therein lies the draw of the summer movie -- two hours of air-conditioned comfort and, if you choose wisely, entertainment for about $10. It's not a bad deal.

But oh, choosing wisely. Trailers, commercials and movie posters can make everything seem like a tour-de-force, can't miss, must-see work of cinematic brilliance. We know that's not the case.

So we've broken down 2010's slate of summer movies into seven essential categories. Consider it your menu for what's going to be on the marquee during the warm months. Order right and come September, you'll be full of the fun stuff and ready for more serious fare -- hello, Oscar movie season!

Action and Old Guys

Summer's prime time for Hollywood's aging heartthrobs to get ripped, grab some guns (or whatever the period-appropriate weapon may be) and get back on the big screen. Enter Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. In "Knight and Day," Cruise plays a secret agent who corrals Cameron Diaz's character into a whirlwind, worldwide, somewhat incomprehensible journey to protect a battery that could unlock an infinite power source. There's a lot of gun shooting, car chasing, motorcycle straddling and high-pitched shrieking (on the part of Diaz). Crowe's "Robin Hood" puts him back in "Gladiator" territory, only now he's wielding a bow and arrow instead of a sword and sandals.

"Knight and Day" opens June 25.

"Robin Hood" opened May 14.

Mythical Sagas

Craving a summer escape to an otherworldly realm? Sink your teeth into "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" and "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." The first has Jake Gyllenhaal in an armor-accessorized muscle shirt fighting to stop the evil Ben Kingsley from unleashing an epic sandstorm. It's abs of steel versus Ghandi gone bad. As for the latest installment of the uber-successful "Twilight" franchise, if you're a fan, you know you're going to be in line for that first midnight screening. For the uninitiated, three words: vampire love triangle.

"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" opened May 28.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" opens June 30.

Chick Flicks

Break out the Manolos, shake up the cosmos: The gals of "Sex and the City" are back, and they're taking on a new metropolis: Abu Dhabi. Many questions surround the highly anticipated Middle East adventures of Carrie and co.: Will Carrie's marriage emerge as a mirage? Will Charlotte's digestive track stay intact? Will their stilettos sink into the sand? When the high-pitched chatter over all that dies down, it'll be time for "Eat Pray Love" in which a newly divorced woman (Julia Roberts) circumnavigates the globe and finds ... herself. Aw.

"Sex and the City 2" opened May 27."Eat Pray Love" opens Aug. 13.

Things That Make You Go "Ha!"

Some of the biggest names in comedy are back on the big screen this season. "Grown Ups" brings together Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade as childhood basketball teammates who reunite for the Fourth of July weekend, kids and significant others in tow. Think of it as the dude equivalent of "Sex and the City 2" -- instead of sitting by the pool sipping cocktails, these guys pee in it. "The Other Guys" joins Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg as down-and-out NYC detectives determined to prove they have what it takes to be top cops. But the more pressing question: Will Ferrell and Wahlberg earn a spot among the buddy cop comedy greats? Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker?

"Grown Ups" opens June 25.

"The Other Guys" opens Aug. 6.

Thrills and Eye Candy

Easy-on-the-eyes actors, covert ops: Angelina Jolie does it in "Salt," Leonardo DiCaprio makes it happen in "Inception." "Salt" casts Jolie as a CIA operative who goes on the run after she's accused of being a Russian spy, making everyone wonder just who this insanely attractive, kick-butt agent really is. Ignore the movie poster that makes her look like a CGI seductress with bad Botox -- she's her normal (which is to say, hot) self in the movie. In "Inception," genius thief Leonardo DiCaprio is charged with pulling off the ultimate crime -- planting an idea instead of stealing one. Directed by "The Dark Knight's" Christopher Nolan, it's poised to be as brainy as Leo is beautiful.

"Salt" opens July 3.

"Inception" opens July 16.

Fun for the Whole Family

This batch of animated goodies is safe for kids of all ages. "Toy Story 3" brings back Woody, Buzz and the rest of the crew as they navigate a brave new world -- the day care center. "Despicable Me" features Steve Carell as the evil-minded Gru, a nefarious little man who wants to steal the moon ... but gets his heart stolen by three orphans who see a father in him. "Shrek Forever After" brings the big green ogre into a forum that finally fits: 3D.

"Toy Story 3" opens June 18.

"Despicable Me" opens July 9.

"Shrek Forever After" opened May 21.

Old but New Again

Ah, the remake: It's a nugget of nostalgia nestled in a shiny new wrapper. This summer's two biggest remakes hit theaters the same day. "The A-Team," with explosions galore and four new faces reprising the roles of Face, Bad Attitude, Hannibal and Howling Mad, features Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson -- a palatable combo of Hollywood hunk and esteemed actor. "The Karate Kid" stars Jaden Smith as a wannabe martial arts master training to beat his bullies and win the heart of his crush. If he's anything like his blockbuster caliber father, Will Smith, he'll win over audiences too.

"The A-Team" opens June 11.

"The Karate Kid" opens June 11.