After months of Oscar fodder and the barren wasteland of dreck that follows awards season, spring arrives in full bloom with highly anticipated comedies (Bridesmaids, Your Highness), sweeping dramas (Water for Elephants, Meek’s Cutoff), the return of Jack Sparrow and the debut of a major new action star.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (20th Century Fox)

Based on the second book in Jeff Kinney’s outlandishly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, the film follows Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) as he enters seventh grade and tries to woo his crush, Holly Hills (Peyton R. List).

Miral (The Weinstein Company)

Directed by artist and two-time Oscar nominee Julian Schnabel, who previously helmed Before Night Falls and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the film stars Freida Pinto as a Palestinian girl brought to a Jerusalem orphanage in the wake of the first Arab-Israeli war. If it’s anything like Schnabel’s previous work, you can expect high art and heart-piercing humanity.

Sucker Punch (Warner Bros. Pictures)

While it bugs us to no end that the poster for this film about a group of girls (including Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens attempting to graduate from High School Musical and Abbie Cornish) battling their way out of a mental institution’s alternate reality looks identical to Harry Potter ads, anything from 300 and Watchmen director Zack Snyder deserves rapt attention.


Hop (Universal)

When James Marsden accidentally almost runs over the Easter Bunny (voiced by Russell Brand, who’s way funnier than he’s been in a while), he’s forced to care for his victim, who turns out to be the world’s worst houseguest.

Insidious (FilmDistrict)

From James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the guys who brought you the Saw franchise, comes a creepy tale of two young parents (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) who discover that the body of their comatose son attracts evil spirits, leaving the boy’s mind trapped in a realm called the Further.

Super (IFC)

What would you do if your wife left you? If you’re “The Office”’s Rainn Wilson, you transform yourself into a less-than-super superhero named the Crimson Bolt to go after your super hot bride (Liv Tyler) and Jacques (Kevin Bacon), the super suave drug dealer she left you for, with the help of a comic book store clerk-turned-loyal super sidekick, Boltie (Ellen Page).


Arthur (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Russell Brand stars in this remake of the Dudley Moore 1980s classic about a drunken playboy.

Born to Be Wild 3D (Warner Bros. Pictures)

An outstanding documentary about orphaned orangutans and elephants and the people who rescue and raise them. If you’re an animal lover, it’s a must-see.

Ceremony (Magnolia)

The Fonz’s son, Max Winkler, directs Uma Thurman, Lee Pace and Michael Angarano (the little kid in Almost Famous, all grown up) in this tale about an awkward young man (Angarano) who crashes the weekend wedding festivities of his crush, Zoe (Thurman), and her betrothed, a pompous, famous filmmaker (Pace).

Hanna (Focus Features)

A 16-year-old assassin (Saoirse Ronan) is sent on a mission across Europe by her ex-CIA operative single father (Eric Bana) with a ruthless intelligence agent (Cate Blanchett) hot on her tracks. We’ve got a shiny new quarter that says Blanchett is actually her mom. Any takers?

Soul Surfer (Affirm Films)

This inspirational tale is based on the true story of young surfer Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) who lost her arm in a shark attack but still chose to return to the water and the sport she loves. With Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt.

Your Highness (Universal)

Fresh from Oscar victory (Natalie Portman) and Oscar hosting (James Franco), the pair co-stars with the always-hilarious Danny McBride (If you’re not watching “Eastbound & Down,” get thee to HBO immediately!) in this fantasy comedy about an arrogant, lazy prince (McBride) who must complete a valiant quest in order to save his father’s kingdom. We’re hoping this could be The Princess Bride for the new millennium.


Scream 4 (Dimension)

Director Wes Craven is back, along with his stars, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, in this franchise continuation. It’s been 10 years since we last saw Sidney Prescott (Campbell), who is now an author of a self-help book and returns to Woodsboro on the last stop of her book tour. Reconnecting with her family and friends, her homecoming also brings the return of Ghostface. Dun dun duh! Here’s hoping Jennifer Love Hewitt makes a cameo and screams “I know what you did last summer!” or it turns out Drew Barrymore was actually the killer all along.

Rio (20th Century Fox)

Jesse Eisenberg provides the voice of Blu, a neurotic domesticated macaw living in small-town Minnesota, who’s brought back to his homeland of Rio de Janeiro to mate with the last of his kind, a beautiful bird named Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and ends up on an unwanted, life-changing adventure.


Apollo 18 (Dimension)

A found-footage-style movie about an abandoned NASA mission to the moon that reveals the existence of alien life. Sounds to us a bit like The Fourth Kind: Take Two.

Madea’s Big Happy Family (Lionsgate)

Media mogul Tyler Perry is back as his alterego Madea, and this time she’s bringing the Old Spice Guy with her.

Meek’s Cutoff (Oscilloscope)

Remember the video game “The Oregon Trail?” This is the film version, but instead of a screen announcing you’ve died of dysentery, the audience watches as a group of settlers finds themselves lost in harsh conditions, unsure whether their guide has intentionally led them into danger. People are already saying Michelle Williams could be nominated for her second consecutive Oscar for her performance in the film directed by Kelly Reichardt, who previously collaborated with Williams in Wendy and Lucy.

Water for Elephants (20th Century Fox)

Robert Pattinson takes a breather from Twilight to co-star with Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz in the big-screen adaptation of the bestseller about a veterinary student (Pattinson) who abandons everything after his parents are killed in a car accident. Joining up with a third-rate traveling circus, he finds connecting with the animals is easy and falling for the star performer (Witherspoon) even easier … except for the fact that she’s the wife of the sadistic ringmaster (Waltz).


Fast Five (Universal)

Is it possible? Could they really be any faster or more furious? In the fifth installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise, Paul Walker and Vin Diesel are joined by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a federal agent dispatched to Rio de Janeiro to bring down former cop Brian O’Conner (Walker) and ex-con Dom Toretto (Diesel) as they assemble one final race in a desperate grasp at their last big score.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil (The Weinstein Company)

Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere stepping into Anne Hathaway’s voice-over role) investigates the disappearance of Hansel and Gretel in this animated sequel.

Prom (Disney)

Disney likes a lot of truth in advertising. You know how High School Musical was about kids in high school putting on a musical? Well, Prom is about a group of high school students getting ready for prom.


Jumping the Broom (TriStar)

From Salim Akil, the director of TV shows like “Girlfriends” and “The Game,” Jumping the Broom stars Paula Patton and Laz Alonso as a young couple trying to bring their very different families together over a long, emotionally charged wedding weekend in Martha’s Vineyard.

Something Borrowed (Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Big Love” star Ginnifer Goodwin stars in this rom-com about Rachel, an unhappy single attorney climbing to the top of a New York law firm, who drinks way too much on her 30th birthday and wakes up in bed with Dex (Colin Egglesfield), the guy she’s had a crush on since law school. Too bad he’s already her best friend Darcy’s (Kate Hudson) fiancé. Awkward. Also co-starring John Krasinski and Steve Howey, who some may remember as previously playing second banana to Hudson in Bride Wars.

Thor (Paramount)

Chris Hemsworth emerges as the next great action star in this tale of the warrior Thor cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) for his arrogance and sent to Earth to live among humans. After he falls for a scientist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman, continuing to surprise with her film choices), Thor learns about life and love, only to have his unparalleled strength become the one thing that could save the Earth – and his lady – from destruction by dark forces. We can’t wait to see what director Kenneth Branagh brings to this film, which launches a new chapter of Marvel movie madness and folds into the Avengers saga.

MAY 13

Bridesmaids (Universal)

Produced by Judd Apatow and featuring a luminary cast of the best assemblage of female comedic talent in recent memory, Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig as the maid of honor at Maya Rudolph’s wedding. Along with the former “SNL” cohorts, Rose Byrne (“Damages”), Melissa McCarthy (“Mike & Molly”), Ellie Kemper (“The Office”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Reno 911!”) and Jon Hamm (who’s been giving Alec Baldwin a run for his money as one of the best, and most handsome, “SNL” hosts of late) also star. The potential for brilliant hilarity is so great it’s almost scary.

Priest (Screen Gems)

Adapted from the Korean comic, Priest is set in an alternate world where humans and vampires have warred for centuries. After the last Vampire War, the veteran Warrior Priest (Paul Bettany) lives with a few remaining humans inside one of the Church’s walled cities. But when his niece (Lily Collins) is kidnapped by vampires, the Priest, his niece’s boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) and a former Warrior Priestess (“Nikita” star Maggie Q) strike out for a rescue mission of vengeance.

MAY 20

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Disney)

Captain Jack Sparrow rides again! Or should we say, Cruz-es? Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves. After crossing paths with a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz), Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, as if you didn’t know) is swept aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (“Deadwood” star Ian McShane), on an unexpected mission to find the elusive fountain of youth. Director Rob Marshall takes over for thrice Pirate king, Gore Verbinski.