My soon to be four year old daughter is obsessed with Disney Princesses. Despite our best efforts to shield her from the world of princesses, the Disney marketing machine found it's way in via other children and she fell under the spell of pretty dresses...but as this obsession moves into it's ninth month (or thereabouts), I realize the true pull for her is the concept of magic, and that's something I can respect.
Her first trio of princess movies was Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Best. The first two are disappointingly old fashioned as it pertains to gender stereotypes, featuring very passive female characters. Thankfully Disney has acknowledged this issue to some extent, and Belle is more suitable role model. My daughter's new obsessions are Frozen and Tangled, both are movies that came out after my childhood and were films I had not seen. That, in itself, was a bonus for me, but beyond that, they are both very enjoyable films, and both films that feature strong female characters.
Both Anna and Rapunzel are characters of action and determination. Yes, they have male companions who help them, but the male characters don't act as saviors, but rather partners aiding the female characters in their journey. I really enchanted by Tangled and think it may be the best of all the Princess movies I've seen (which is now most). Perhaps this obsession doesn't have to be the negative influence we always feared.