Re-working the conceit that worked so well in Pixar's Toy Story, Disney's new computer-animated family film has it that, once an amusement arcade closes and all of the children have gone home for the night, the games' characters have their own independent lives to lead.
The film's titular hero (voiced by John C Reilly) is the baddie in an old 8-bit-era arcade game called Fix-It Felix, Jr. But he yearns for acceptance, companionship, and to know what it feels like to be the hero for once. To which end, he ventures into other game worlds, and teams up with another scrappy outsider, Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman), from a Mario Kart-style racing game called Sugar Rush.
Wreck-It Ralph features digital environments, colourful and inventive enough to make the Mario World designer Shigeru Miyamoto himself proud, and cameo appearances from more than 100 real-world game characters. It deconstructs some of the more bizarre narrative conventions that games have evolved. And anyone who has ever played a Nintendo in earnest will love it. Bringing together characters from different gaming eras and genres requires some rather convoluted plot mechanics.
But the hero's journey towards self-actualisation is universally recognisable. And any anachronisms or over-familiarity from which the film's plot might suffer are compensated for by its joyous mood, its visual exuberance, and a firing-rate for gags so rapid that you could get to level 10 of Space Invaders with it.