Wow wow. Liz Smith hearts "In Her Shoes!"

From today's column...

"A FEW weeks ago I said the highly expected Fox movie "In Her Shoes" would offer a number of Oscar acting stints. Was I right? I think I was.

Now here's my advice. Just read what follows, but don't let yourself read anything else about this coming fall film because a lot of your total enjoyment will be finding out for yourself what it's all about.

And I guarantee you'll laugh and cry in equal measure because this is a simply wonderful film — one of the best in years. There isn't a misstep in it and it has been fantastically photographed by Terry Stacey. When you see a movie that looks this good from the get-go, you just know you're in for a terrific time. And the musical score is great as well. The opening scenes are electric.

This is the story of two sisters. One is Cameron Diaz, in a dazzling, sexy, slutty and disreputable appearance that contrasts boldly with Toni Collette, her less attractive, staid and responsible lawyer sibling. These women are the offshoots of a dysfunctional family, to say the least, and the plot thickens when we discover that Shirley MacLaine, living in a posh Florida retirement complex, is their grandmother.

We must credit Susannah Grant for a brilliant screenplay from the Jennifer Weiner novel and Curtis Hanson for his deft, compassionate direction. Ken Howard, who was so good years ago as the leading man of the TV series "White Shadow," comes aboard as the father of Cameron and Toni. He is fully equipped with a wicked stepmother wife, Candice Azzara. Brooke Smith of "The Silence of the Lambs" is the cynical girlfriend of Toni. Richard Burgi and Mark Feuerstein are the very good actors who play the men in their lives.

I don't want to give away a scintilla of this plot, but I wasn't ready for this film to end because as it went along, I just wanted to go on living these people's lives right along with them. And never has Florida retirement looked so good! If the performance of that terrific character actor Norman Lloyd, as a blind hospital patient, and the resultant e. e. cummings poetry don't get to you, then you're dead.

I don't envy Oscar voters having to choose among the compelling performances of Cameron, Toni and Shirley. Ms. Collette keeps astonishing us as an actress with breathtaking range and malleable features that show off her very soul. Shirley, as a wise old control freak, who has learned her life lessons, is simply dazzling — the best she's been in years. But if there's an Academy Award for the perfect body combined with acting talent, Cameron wins hands down. She's gorgeous . . . right along with the "Sex and the City" shoes that become part of the plot. This superstar can really act! Yes! This 20th Century Fox movie is so good that its sheer excellence is part of the thrill!"