Happiness might be one of the most basic and elusive of human desires. Everyone wants to be happy and in turn wants their loved ones to be happy, but attaining true happiness is often a lifelong struggle.

Filmmaker Doug Morrione tries to find the secret to living a happy life in the documentary “Fairways to Happiness.”

Morrione begins his quest after being relocated from New York to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dubai is a fascinating place, a thoroughly modern city that sprung up from the desert almost overnight, with an 85% expat population looking to make a new life for themselves.

This gives Morrione access to a diverse group of interview subjects from around the world who offer their thoughts on what makes a happy life, mixed in with experts in psychology and religious figures such as a chaplain and a Buddhist monk.

The thesis statement of “Fairways to Happiness” is to be kind and enjoy the journey in life, not just the accomplishments. This is an admirable sentiment to be putting into the world in any way shape or form.

Morrione does struggle a bit in framing his film as at first he relies on his diverse group of interview subjects before then moving on to the city of Dubai as a place that fosters happiness.

He then settles on his friend Eugene, a British expat and amateur golfer. Eugene is an amiable and good-natured guy who muses on life through his golf game. While golf is an inherently frustrating game, Eugene and his quest to shoot under 80 strokes in a round of golf becomes a metaphor for human existence.  

The most glaring issue with “Fairways to Happiness” is that it goes out of its way to paint Dubai as a borderline-Utopia of modernity, commerce and security. Meanwhile there’s no mention at all of the UAE’s way, way, way sketchy human rights record.

It’s almost as if it is saying you can find incredible happiness in Dubai as long as you behave in a very specific way and look the other way from the intense unhappiness the UAE government causes others. This is disingenuous at best.

But taken on the whole, “Fairways to Happiness” is a net positive that portrays the human experience as inherently beautiful and profound if viewed through the proper lens.

“Fairways to Happiness” is not rated.

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