The Boot Cake

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Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO -- A doctor in India prescribes Charlie Chaplin films to his patients. Like Norman Cousins, the good doctor believes laughter is the best medicine. In this genial India/Australia production, we find that the wise doctor practices what he prescribes: He has even founded the Charlie Circle, a group that celebrates the Little Tramp’s kindly spirit and comic genius with a celebration each year on Chaplin’s birthday.

Bounding along with quirky flourishes, including Chaplin clips and interviews with a range of Indian fans, “The Boot Cake” takes its title from the boot that Chaplin ate in “The Gold Rush.” Fittingly, the Charlie Circle celebrates his birthday with a ceremonial cake, in this instance, baked by the filmmaker Kathryn Millard. Along the 74-minute jaunt, we learn film history. The original cake in “The Gold Rush” was made of licorice, which an Indian pharmacist joyously attests must have had a strong effect on the Little Tramp: “After eating it, he either vomited or had a very good bowel movement.” Turner Classic Movies, there’s some history.

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