In Havana, Cuba, Andrés Hernández and his kinkajou Vivo play music together in the plaza. One day after their show, Andrés receives a letter from Marta Sandoval, an old friend of his, informing him that she is retiring from her music career. The letter offers a chance to reconnect in Miami, Florida, at the Mambo Cabana and for Andrés to finally tell Marta how he feels about her through a song he wrote just for her. Vivo, happy with their life in Cuba, is reluctant to help Andrés and leaves in a huff. The next morning, it is discovered Andrés has passed away in his sleep and that night, a funeral service is held in the plaza, with Andrés’ niece Rosa and her daughter Gabi attending before they head back to their home in Key West, Florida.
Ashamed of his earlier reluctance, Vivo vows himself to get Marta to hear Andrés’ song. He stows away to Key West with Gabi and Rosa. Gabi is thrilled when she discovers Vivo hiding in her stuff and explains to him how she’s an underdog in her hometown because she is different from everyone else and does not want to be a part of her girl scout troop, the Sand Dollars. Gabi finds Andrés’s song and agrees to help Vivo deliver the song to Marta. Under the guise of attending a cookie sale in town, Gabi and Vivo purchase bus tickets to get to Marta’s show, but they are stopped by three other Sand Dollars, who show an interest in Vivo. Gabi and Vivo manage to escape from them, but miss the bus. They end up in the Everglades and are separated by a freak rain storm, losing the song.
While searching for Gabi, Vivo comes across a roseate spoonbill named Dancarino, who is unsuccessful in finding love with one of his own. With Vivo’s help, he is able to win the heart of Valentina. The two later rescue Vivo from a noise-hating Green anaconda named Lutador. Meanwhile, Gabi discovers that she was followed by the Sand Dollars on a boat and that they are holding Andrés’ song, keeping it from her until she leads them to Vivo. When the girls are attacked by Lutador, Vivo saves them, but the song is destroyed in the process. Desolated, Vivo considers going back to Cuba until he realizes he and Gabi can recreate the song, as he knows the melody and Gabi knows the lyrics. Together, they make it to Miami and search for Marta, who has learned of Andrés’ death and refuses to go on stage.
Gabi and Vivo sneak inside the Mambo Cabana, but Gabi is unable to enter and tells Vivo to go on without her. She is soon caught by security and her furious mother, who has discovered that she ran away. Vivo finds a mourning Marta, who recognizes him from Andrés’ obituary photo, and delivers the song. Touched by the song, Marta is revitalized and decides to go on stage. Vivo then locates Gabi and Rosa, who are arguing while driving back home. Gabi finally and tearfully shares her feelings with her mother: she felt the need to be a part of Vivo’s mission to deliver the song because Andrés never got to tell Marta how much he loved her, just like she never got to tell her father before he died. Rosa reassures her daughter that her father knew how much she loved him, and drives Gabi and Vivo back to the concert just in time to hear Marta play Andrés’ song. Vivo decides to stay in Florida with Gabi and Rosa, and Gabi and Vivo put on their own show in the city with Marta.
I can not recommend this movie enough. Matthew actually watched it before me and forced me to snuggle and watch with him. I’m glad I did. It is so fun, groovy (if you don’t break out into song, you certainly will in dance). and heartfelt. A great family movie. Going to sign off with my favorite song.