Review: The Complete History of My Sexual Failures

No, this is not The Ryan McDonald story. Hey, don’t be mean! This gobsmacking 2009 documentary from director-star Chris Waitt is a little similar to Myles Berkowitz’s “20 Dates” in that it centres around a truly self-absorbed individual’s romantic failings, and indeed it is probably no less dubious in its supposed ‘realism’. But there is still one major difference between the two. Chris Waitt may be as pathetic and obnoxious as neurotic yank Berkowitz, and is certainly oblivious to his failings, but he is far more entertainingly pathetic and obnoxious (and Waitt’s scenes with his displeased producer are far more plausible than Berkowitz’s ones with the obnoxious Elie Samaha). It makes for a sometimes extremely funny (something “20 Dates” never came close to), if perhaps equally sad experience. Chris is a thirtysomething loser in life and love, a failed London musician who seemingly has barely worked a day in his life and can’t hang on to a chick. His mates and younger brother are all settling down, whilst he’s feeling like ‘Strange Uncle Chris’ (A feeling I’m admittedly familiar with myself). He decides to interview old girlfriends to learn why every single one dumped him, meanwhile he also seeks medical advice on a certain ‘performance’ issue. Unfortunately, a great majority refuse to even acknowledge his existence anymore, let alone be filmed for his latest project. Geez, what did he do, rape all their mothers? Well, no, but he did try to kiss one at a wedding once, according to one of the more sociable ex-squeezes.

In car crash fashion, I couldn’t take my eyes off this, even though Waitt made me seem normal and well-adjusted by comparison. I mean, this guy’s a major douchebag, but damn that makes for some funny moments on screen, even if on the odd occasion you’re questioning the line between factual documentary and staged ‘stunt’. For instance, at one of his lowest points, Waitt experiments with Viagra, to the point where he ends up foolishly overdoing it, and the results are initially hysterically funny as he ends up...well....very uncomfortable. But then he goes out into the street trying to get random women to shag him. That’s not gonna happen in any reality I’m aware of, he’s just lucky he didn’t get arrested, so obviously it was a stunt for our entertainment (The fact that a little research shows that Waitt has downplayed his experience and praise as a filmmaker also kinda has one questioning things- he had a decent role in “Hot Fuzz”, for instance). But for the most part, I found Waitt’s failings as a fully-functioning human being to be quite engrossing, in a sad, pathetic, vaguely grubby kind of way. You’ve gotta laugh at the fact that none of the women he wants to interview will talk to Chris until his dear mum (a good sport) intervenes. Watching him suffer through door slam after door slam is pretty damn amusing, I must say, and it’s not long before you work out just why these women want nothing to do with Chris. The guy’s a creepy loser who just doesn’t get it, or doesn’t want to. Some of the girls who do talk to him end up just hurling insults at the guy, which are pretty amusing in a masochistic kinda way. And just look at the totally dumbfounded look on his face when girl after girl recalls every little social grace and decent behaviour that Chris failed to exhibit in their relationships. Yes, Chris, when a girl sends you love letters, you probably should reply to them, you selfish, ignorant tosspot! Yes, Chris, turning up an hour late for a date is a definite turn-off, you half-wit! Then look at the faces of the poor girls who he does interview, they clearly can’t believe this guy still doesn’t get it and still hasn’t gotten over himself. Chris of course, just thinks he dates too many crazy women. And there’s a gobsmackingly awkward segment involving the girl whom Chris feels might’ve been ‘the one’, that shows him reaching levels of shockingly sad behaviour. She’s pregnant to another man, let her go, you douche! It’s over! Denial ain’t just a river in Africa, dude.

Best of all, Waitt doesn’t really cheat like the thoroughly detestable Berkowitz did (Remember Myles had his girlfriend hidden away in the corner of all of his dates, but we were meant to believe she had left him?). This guy’s a total loser, but damn, he sure has some guts to put this out there. Whether or not some of it is staged, it ultimately doesn’t matter, because Waitt ain’t making himself more appealing, he’s here in all his pathetic, whiny, glory for us to laugh at. He even shows us his penis. Thanks for that one, Chris, but some things really ought to be kept your privates, perhaps. The fact that Waitt looks like a cross between Shaggy from “Scooby Doo” and a low-rent Kurt Cobain adds another layer of amusement to it all.

There’s lots of laughs, lots of moments that will have you shake your head in complete embarrassment. I can’t say there’s much insight here, because if there is, it’s surely going over Waitt’s deluded, immature head (Well, assuming this is all real, anyway).

Rating: B


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