It’s a funny thing about reviewing film: ever since we started, Marcy and I barely go to the movies any more. We see screenings, watch screeners, attend festivals. We might go to a premiere, but hardly ever do we stand in line at the box office, ride the endless escalators up multiplex floors, buy soda and snacks–least of all on opening weekend on 42nd Street.

But last night, we became part of the popcorn-munching, corn-syrup swilling masses, taking our $22 seats next to a boisterous Latino family and sharing a smuggled turkey sandwich during the trailers. Previews! Who knew they had so many of them?

Contrary to what the home theater crowd likes to believe, it was pure fun, unmarred by cell phones, overenthusiastic talkers, sticky seats, squealing babies, or those unfathomable people who leave after the last explosion but before the final credits. The crowd roared, gasped, and applauded on cue, clearly enjoying the ride, giving itself over to the movie. Like redeemed food critic Anton Ego (voice of Peter O’Toole), we were delighted not to be holding our pens. From where we were sitting, rumors of the death of the theater experience have been greatly exaggerated — as long as the movie’s any good.

And Ratatouille is every bit as good as they say.

Ratatouille. Brad Bird, 2007. ****