Big-Screen Ambition Swept Away

A personal goal can be as exhilarating as drinking rocket fuel. It can mess with your stomach and get relatively expensive compared to a Snapple, but the endorphin rush outweighs the downside.

I believe in going for the gusto. Why not try to reinvent the wheel? Make it smoother, rounder — more "wheelie."

The new wheel might roll better. If not, you can always fall back on the original wheel. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

However, there are some things you just clearly know not to do. I wouldn't bungee-jump off the 59th Street Bridge into the dirty waters of Manhattan. (It's enough of a feat just spending time with someone who did.)

I wouldn't try to start my own book club if I only read the pop-up kind. I also know better than to enter a Miss America pageant. Not only am I too old, but the perfect pear shape they strive for during the swimsuit competition would be lost to my baked-potato figure.

Even if the judges were obsessed with starches, and even if I were able to answer their inane questions about changing the world with some modicum of intelligence, I'd still end up losing out when I accidentally cracked Joan Van Ark's skull while twirling a baton on ice skates to Irene Cara's "What a Feeling" — assuming Joan were a celebrity judge.

Failure Comes as No Shanghai Surprise

Know your limitations! That's the point I'm trying to make here, which is why I can't tolerate one more minute of Mrs. Guy Ritchie — aka Madonna — getting in front of a camera and trying to act.

Before all you Madonna fans aim your bullet-loaded conical bras at me, know that I, too, am a fan of Our Lady of the Blond Ambition. She is a musical icon, and if you don't agree with that, then you must agree she's a marketing genius. She is the queen of reinvention. She knows how to MOVE. She moves her music, her body, an audience, men, and merchandise. But ladies and germs, she does not know how to MOV-IE. She just can't act.

This statement can be taken two ways, as over the years many have found her behavior to be rather unsavory. There's no point in arguing the entertainment value of the Sex book, her many documentaries, the "Justify My Love" video, etc. They were Madonna then and again. And as is her forte, presto change-o, she's now a mother of two and a "happily married" woman.

But as far as her acting — it's been bad since her first time out of the gate. If you're so enthralled by her other talents that you are blind to her lack of theatrical abilities, I urge you to take a walk down celluloid way with me:

• Desperately Seeking Susan • Shanghai Surprise • Who's That Girl? • Dangerous Game • Body of Evidence • Evita

I'm not including A League of Their Own or Dick Tracy, because those were decent films with ensemble casts. Their success wasn't sitting on Madonna's shoulder. But, if you're still such a die-hard fan and think I'm such a hard-nose, then go rent all of these and watch them back to back. If you don't attempt some kind of personal abuse (aka toothpicks in your eyeballs, biting hunks out of your forearms), then you should stop reading here because you're too far gone.

Which brings us to her latest — Swept Away.

Her husband, Snatch director Guy Ritchie, clearly loves Madonna blindly because he allowed himself to go against the instinctual gift he has for filmmaking and miscast her in a role that could've been pulled off by just about anyone with talent. Harvey Fierstein in drag would've had more believable on-screen chemistry with co-star Adriano Giannini than did Madonna. Basically, if this movie isn't her final attempt at film-career suicide, then I don't know what will be (Evita was supposed to be the movie death of her).

Swept Away is a remake of the 1974 Lina Wertmüller film starring Mariangela Melato and, coincidentally enough (yeah right), Adriano Giannini's papa, Giancarlo Giannini. In its day it was weighted with controversy as it touched on communist ideals, sexual exploration and situations that were certainly more taboo back then. Madonna’s No Sandler

Whatever Ritchie intended to do with this version of the film is all but lost because Madonna is so overpoweringly awful that she would've been less guilty had she shot this film to death with a rifle.

In the inimitable words of the Rolling Stones, "You can't always get what you want." Although Madonna has lots of fans, the bottom line is that the flick has grossed $375,000 on 196 screens. That's roughly $1,900 a screen, or about 191 people per screen).

All I'm saying is if your modus operandi is going for the gusto and doing it for public consumption, then it's important to have the talent to back it up.

And although I never thought I'd say this, Adam Sandler does that!

I saw Punch-Drunk Love and, although this is one quirky, jerky film, Sandler stepped up to the plate. Whether you are a fan of his potty-humor/slapstick comedy or not, the guy is a box-office gold mine. His plethora of films appeals to a certain younger crowd, but he never ceases to pull in the movie masses.

Sandler went out on a limb, went for the real dramatic carrot and got it. Although his role as the emotionally troubled Barry Egan contains behavior reminiscent to Sandler's own unusual characteristics, he is able to take his oddness to a whole new level.

Truthfully, the guy really can act. There are scenes where his volatility is completely unnerving. Punch-Drunk allows him to switch-hit with the big-team players like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey, who have put aside their comedy capes for more dynamic parts.

Honestly, Madonna could take a lesson or two from Mr. Sandler, and if not from him, then from an acting teacher. Sandler might make comedy albums, but he's never going to try and become a Top 40 singer. He knows better.

These two flicks should change titles. I got Swept Away by Adam Sandler's performance in Punch-Drunk Love, and that's exactly what Guy Ritchie must've been hit with to make such a hideous movie with his wife.

Heidi Oringer is director of entertainment programming at ABCNEWS Radio.