Film Review: The Donor Party is one invite you can decline attending

In the early 2000’s the premise of The Donor Party probably would’ve flown, and most likely would have secured a healthy box office too, but in 2023, there’s something incredibly backwards – and, dare I say, predatory – about Thom Harp‘s comedy that clearly wants to display some type of positive message about the unconventionality of motherhood, but executes it in the most juvenile of manners.

It’s raunchy at times, a little gross and occasionally funny – I have to admit to audibly chuckling throughout, mainly thanks to Erinn Hayes and her drugged-up stupor – but it feels more in tune with a bad taste comedy skit than a feature-length narrative.

Said narrative revolves around 40-something, “baby fever” brained Jaclyn (Malin Åkerman), a divorcee who thought she was doing fine in her life until she ran into her ex and his pregnant wife; “I wasted all my good eggs on that asshole,” she exclaims, bringing into question why he never wanted to have a baby with her, but with his new wife there’s clearly no issue.

It’s not a good headspace to be in, something her besties Molly (the aforementioned Hayes) and Amandine (Bria Henderson) intend on navigating her out of, so, in a stroke of only-in-the-movies-do-ideas-like-this-seem-to-form, they plan on throwing her a party during the time of her ovulation peak, inviting a heft of single, eligible men, and letting nature (and hormones) do the rest.  Yes, she intends to have casual sex with however many men and not inform them that she hopes their unprotected (or protected-compromised) rendezvous will result in her impregnation.  What a picture!

There’s already moral issues with such a plan, and the script having Jaclyn dismiss adoption and claim sperm bank implantation is “too expensive” didn’t think of the fact that, you know, raising a child costs money too, which itself speaks to the lack of depth on hand, but we’re in the business of making comedy, a genre that I believe still deserves to push the boundaries of correctness.  But, it would certainly help if The Donor Party was at least consistently amusing.

At least the film has the smarts to not just throw a party for sex sake, but does so in the guise of Molly’s husband’s (Rob Corddry) birthday; though the fact that he never really questions who some of the random guests are then negates any sense the film might think it has.  Given that Jaclyn looks like, well, Malin Åkerman the party guests (and daddy candidates) don’t exactly take much time to warm up to her advances, though, in typical comedic fashion, not every guy on hand is baby daddy material.

Between a television personality known as “the shirtless chef” (Jeff Torres, doing one helluva Jeff Goldblum impersonation), the portrait painter (Jerry O’Connell) whose appealing aesthetic is offset by his arrogant and sexist views, the sweet stage-five clinger (Dan Ahdoot), and the blonde flirt (Ryan Hansen), Jaclyn isn’t at a loss, but she naturally bungles any opportunity she has in some form or another; whether that’s having sex with the wrong person or trying her darndest to conserve sperm after it’s been dispensed outside of her person.

Though the film earns a point or two in that it does address certain issues that plague men and women of a particular age (the disparity in dating and the pros and cons of parenthood, among others), and Åkerman, O’Connell and Hayes all throw themselves headfirst into the extremes of their characters with gusto – not to mention it does kind of scold Jaclyn on her deceiving idea (with something of a karmic payoff in the final frame) – but it also thinks it’s more thought-provoking than it actually is; a tighter script could have really assisted in us accepting more of the vulgarity throughout.

Perhaps if the film committed to more of its tasteless personality The Donor Party might have at least earned humour points off the fact that it’s presenting something so inherently wrong, but in trying to inject a serious discussion about sex and parenthood it feels disjointed and ultimately too soft for the rule-breaking comedy it so clearly wants to be.  This is one party invitation you can reject.


The Donor Party is screening in select theatres and available On Demand in the United States from March 3rd, 2023.  An Australian release is yet to be determined.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.