A London-based Aussie mum gets caught shoplifting but manages to escape jail and sets her sights on getting even with her ex.
The books of antipodean writer Kathy Lette are generally entertaining, with dialogue and characters far smarter than those of your average bonkbuster. Given that Mad Cows is one of her weaker efforts, it seems peculiar that it should be chosen for filming, and it's still more unfortunate that the book loses a good deal of what charm it did possess in the translation, the result being an overly frantic, largely ineffectual bit of fluff.
Friel is London-based Aussie Maddie Wolfe, a new mum courtesy of her on-off philandering partner, Alex (a horribly miscast Wise). When a shoplifting charge lands her in the clink, not only does Alex ditch her in favour of his new arm candy, but her sprog comes under threat of adoption. Having turned the baby over to her gold-digging friend Gillian (Lumley, repeating her Ab Fab persona for the big screen), Maddie breaks out of jail and sets her sights on getting even with her ex.
To her credit, Friel's Australian accent is impeccable. There are nifty cameos from Scales as a TV baby expert and Phyllida Law as Alex's mum, and there are some laughs to be had from Lumley getting in touch with her maternal side, and a sequence involving a frankly ridiculous bit of baby-themed computer software.
However, the screenplay frequently feels as though it is being read verbatim from the book, while Sugarman's choppy direction and attempts to up the hipness quotient - through speeded up action, celebrity 'It Girl' cameos and screeching stereotypes - fail miserably. Even worse.
The film feel more like an irritating pop video than a serious attempt at moviemaking.