Read about the season's hottest movies

Summertime and the movie forecast is easy. Look for the hottest stars, lots of heavy action, and big hits from years past that have been reheated and served up as summer sequels: Tom Cruise climbs behind the wheel of a 200 mph stock car in Days of Thunder. . .Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte buddy up again in Another 48 HRS. . .Arnold Schwarzenegger travels to Mars in Total Recall. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Warren Beatty as Dick Tracy tries to round up a rogues’ gallery of grotesque gangsters while resisting the advances of nightclub chanteuse Breathless Mahoney, played by none other than a platinum-coiffed Madonna. Also on tap are a new batch of Gremlins, a rewired RoboCop, Bruce Willis saving the world from terrorists in Die Hard 2, and the end of Michael J. Fox’s Future. According to Hollywood’s version of the calendar, summer started last week. So here’s our special preview of what to look for at the local plex during the next few months.

Cadillac Man
How did Hollywood finally manage to turn Robin Williams into a major movie star? Easy. They started giving him characters that shared his own natural gift for verbal calisthenics. In his last two roles — as a machine-gun-lipped DJ in Good Morning, Vietnam and an overly expressive English teacher in Dead Poets Society — Robin rocked, and both movies did big business. Now his motor-mouth is in gear again as a womanizing car salesman held hostage in his own showroom by a gun-toting, vengeful cuckold (Tim Robbins). Trapped with a crowd of salespeople and customers, Williams has to slick his way out of an oily situation that sounds like Dog Day Afternoon meets Tin Men. If Robin’s sales pitch works again, he’s got a star vehicle with all the options. (Opened May 18) (C)

Inside Stuff: Tim Robbins sparkled as the young fastballer in Bull Durham, but he hasn’t chalked up any recent wins. A smooth ride here might get him back in the starting lineup.

Bird on a Wire
Just when moviemakers had apparently Big Chilled out, here comes another lament for the passing of the ’60s. Hippie-turned-yuppie-lawyer Goldie Hawn thinks her old lover Mel Gibson — a hippie-turned-drug-smuggler-turned-informer- turned-fugitive — is dead. Then one day she bumps into him in a Detroit gas station. They reminisce, they argue, they cuddle, they hit the road to elude some bad guys while Aaron Neville sings Leonard Cohen’s ”Bird on a Wire.” A big indoor zoo makes a colorful setting for the obligatory shoot-’em-up climax. (Opened May 18) (A,C,R)

Inside Stuff: The ’80s were not a good decade for Goldie Hawn. Once an audience darling, she hasn’t had a hit since Private Benjamin. But no matter how this picture does, Hawn’s career is scheduled for a major overhaul. She has signed a seven-picture deal with Disney, whose reclamation projects include Bette Midler and Richard Dreyfuss.

Back to the Future Part III
Head ’em off at the past! Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd take a time trip to the Wild West to prevent mischief by their thuggish nemesis Biff (Thomas F. Wilson). Perky Future veteran Lea Thompson turns up again, along with Future newcomer Mary Steenburgen, who did the time warp thing with ex- husband Malcolm McDowell 1979’s Time After Time. (Opens May 25) COMEDY, (S,F,W,E)