Three years ago, a little upstate New York studio named Blue Sky rolled out the computer-animated comedy Ice Age for Twentieth Century Fox, and it grossed nearly $400 million worldwide. To follow it up, codirector Chris Wedge and kids'-book author/artist William Joyce (he masterminded the TV 'toon Rolie Polie Olie) envisioned a mechanical world far beyond the visual complexity of Ice Age.
But what should the story be? Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire fashioned what Wedge calls ''kind of a 1930s screwball-comedy musical,'' complete with a tune titled ''Follow Your Ticker.'' It was deemed too retro, so in came writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (City Slickers, A League of Their Own). The nonmusical plot now follows Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor), a perky 'bot who longs to work for industrialist Bigweld (Mel Brooks) but falls afoul of evil corporate schemer Ratchet (Greg Kinnear).
Jennifer Coolidge is Aunt Fanny, a maternal type who cares for a group of low-end, low-tech robots called the ''rusties'' and she's got the biggest booty this side of J. Lo. ''When I saw all the characters,'' says Coolidge, ''I was so excited that I got to be the one with the giant ass.''