Joel Siegel Reviews New DVDs

Are Madonna movies bad just because she's in them? Not necessarily.

In Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), her first film, she lit up the screen. She was a hit in A League of Their Own (1992) and Dick Tracy (1990), too.

These three films had two things in common: Madonna had small, character roles. She was performing more than acting — and no one doubts she's a great performer.

These films also had strong directors, who could tell her what to do and make her listen.

‘I Think I’m a Good Actress’ I liked Madonna in Evita , and I talked to her after she won a 1997 Golden Globe Award.

"I think I'm a good actress," she told me.

What I didn't tell her was she sang but didn't speak in Evita.

In Who's That Girl (1987), her second starring vehicle, she did a bad Marilyn Monroe impression from Some Like It Hot, squeaking and mincing through the whole movie.

She's said she'd been treated unfairly as an actress. "When De Niro reinvents himself it's art. When I do it, it's evil and manipulative," she said once in a Primetime Live interview.

But that's the problem. She doesn't seem to know the difference between acting — where you become another person — and performing — where you play dress-up.

A Word of Advice Here's some advice for Madonna: Stop making movies with your husbands. Remember Shanghai Surprise (1986), co-starring her former husband Sean Penn?

Two of the biggest names in show business, husband and wife, starring together. It cost $17 million — and grossed $2 million. This film didn't even open in New York. I drove 180 miles, back and forth to Torrington, Conn., just to give Shanghai Surprise a bad review.

When she sings she has great range. But as an actress she hits just one note — and in Swept Away the one note is mean.

If you think this island in Swept Away is deserted, you should see the theaters where the film is playing.

On Wednesday night Swept Away sold an average of $130 worth of tickets per theater. That's an average of about three tickets a screening.