CINDERELLA STORY: Hilary Duff plays Sam, a good-hearted Cinderella stuck in the fairy-tale-gone-wrong atmosphere of modern-day Los Angeles. Enslaved by an evil, Botox-junky step-mom (a hilarious Jennifer Coolidge), Sam is forced to scrub floors at her late father's diner, thus earning the eternal disdain of the snooty popular kids in school. Luckily, she has a friend in an artsy nerd named Carter (Dan Byrd), and a text-message romance with some poetic schoolmate she's never met. She also has a fairy godmother: the sweet diner manager (Regina King) who helps Sam get decked out and disguised for the Halloween dance. At the dance, she discovers her prince is one of the popular kids, Austin Ames (Chad Michael Murray). Happily ever after seems like a long shot, though, because Austin is burdened by pressures at school and at home, and Sam can't shake her "diner girl" inferiority complex.
SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS: Ken Kwapis (HE SAID, SHE SAID) directs this coming-of-age film based on the novel of the same name by Ann Brashares. This tale of lifelong friendship uses a pair of magical jeans as a metaphor for the moral support and shared happiness that forms the glue between four teenage girls. The quartet purchase the pants while shopping together before going separate ways for summer vacation. Shy, self-conscious Lena (Alexis Bledel) takes the jeans to Greece, where she is visiting her grandparents. They hardly seem lucky when she falls into the sea while wearing the pants and almost drowns, only to be rescued by a local fisherman. Before recognizing that the pants helped her find love, Lena sends them along to rebellious Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) with the hope that the jeans will prove luckier for her. Tibby has stayed home in Bethesda, Maryland, for the summer to make a documentary film. With a nagging job at a superstore, Tibby finds humanity and sensitivity while the jeans are in her possession. Next the pants travel to Carmen (America Ferrera), a talented writer living with her father for the summer. The jeans make her face the anger she feels toward him for leaving her and her mother, and help her find forgiveness. Finally, the jeans end up at soccer camp in Mexico with Bridget (Blake Lively), a beautiful, athletic wild child dealing with the loss of her mother. Through the jeans, Bridget discovers that ignoring the truth doesn't make it disappear.