'Friends With Kids' sounds like 'Friends With Benefits'

"FRIENDS WITH Kids" sounds vaguely like "Friends With Benefits," though in this case nobody confuses children with anything beneficial.

Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) and Jason (Adam Scott) are platonic BFFs who are quietly appalled by the deterioration that children have wrought among their married friends (Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd).

The adults have put on weight, ceased to shave (men and women), they fight each other, they fight their kids, they stay at home, poop with the bathroom door open, and at the end of the day claim, half-heartedly, that it's all worth it.

Julie and Jason are unconvinced, but late-thirties Julie, especially, feels the biological pull to have a child. She has a lousy dating life, dislikes the impersonal idea of in vitro. The only guy she really sees as a suitable father is Jason.

So a pact is struck - she will conceive his child the old-fashioned way, they will share custody, and go merrily on their single, separate ways.

It's all meant to be a cutting- edge examination of changing times, non-traditional breeding/parenting, but to my eyes there wasn't enough here to distinguish Julie and Jason from their co-habitating friends.

The two live in the same apartment building. They seem like a wealthy (tons of money) married couple with separate bedrooms, or a benignly divorced couple who've organized their lives for the benefit of the baby.

More like the latter, since writer-director Westfeldt's script gives Jason a smokin' girlfriend (Megan Fox, who is very good), and Julie a handsome divorcee (Edward Burns).

"Friends," for a liberal-minded movie, also sticks conservatively and obviously to rom-com formula - you know that Julie and Jason will set their pretty placeholders aside and realize they love each other, etc.

This takes FOREVER. Compensating are the generous supporting laughs provided by half the cast of "Bridesmaids," although after a time you may find yourself wondering why Wiig and Hamm were not given the lead roles.

Friends With Kids

Directed by Jennifer Westfeldt. With Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Edward Burns, Megan Fox, Jennifer Westfeldt, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Jon Hamm. Distributed by Roadside Attractions.

Running time: 1 hours, 40 minutes.

Parent's guide: R (for sexual content and language).