The Princess Paradox

Hollywood's newest Cinderella stories seek to inject some feminist messages into the age-old fantasy. But can you really wear your tiara while spurning it too?

It's the recurring nightmare of high-minded modern parents of daughters. You ask your relatives to lay off the pink pinafores at the baby shower. You give your daughter Legos and soccer balls, not Barbies. You encourage her to play fire fighter and immerse her in Dora the Explorer videos. Then one Halloween rolls around, and your empowered, self-confident budding Marie Curie tells you that she wants to be...a princess.

Call it nature or nurture, harmless fantasy or insidious indoctrination, but Hollywood is discovering that it still pays not to fight the royal urge. Following 2001's $108 million--grossing The Princess Diaries,...

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