Blu is a baby bird in Rio watching a large and elaborate performance by all the birds as they are singing, dancing, and having fun. Just as Blu is about to fly all the birds as well as himself are captured and caged, brought to America. Blu wakes up scared in a cage in Minnesota after a truck swerves off the road. A little girl named Linda finds him and promises to take care of him. They show them growing up together in Minnesota and now Linda is an adult. They’re best friends and Linda owns a bookstore.
Linda is talking to her mother on the phone saying she’d love to visit but she needs to watch Blu, as she never lets him out of her sight. There are two geese outside the store mocking Blu. Just then a man (Tulio) trips and falls into the window of the store. He enters and talks to Linda about needing Blu to mate with another blue macaw or the species will be extinct. Of course the other bird is in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. Blu seems to be too domesticated and is unable to fly, causing Linda to be hesitant and say no.
Blu is reading about and drawing diagrams to teach himself how to fly. H e tries it in the bookstore after making his own runway, but gets caught in Christmas lights. Linda talks to Blu about going to Rio and they decide it’s important to go to Rio.
In Rio, Blu is happy to feel the wind in his feathers as they drive with Tulio. They find out that it’s Carnival time in Rio, which is one of the biggest parades in the world. Two birds, Nico and Pedro, start talking to Blu about Brazilian lady birds. They try to get Blu out of his cage in the car but Blu tells them he wants to stay there.
They all get to the aviary where all the birds adore Tulio. They see many birds being taken care of by the doctors there, including one in a body cast. They also see a white bird who was found the night before and looks to be in horrible shape, but gives Blu evil eyes as they walk away.
They fancy up Blu’s hair and put him into the created habitat where the female blue macaw, Jewel, is being held. He thinks she’s beautiful as she flies but she attacks Blu. They introduce themselves to each other and Jewel tells him they don’t have much time. She thinks he’s also trying to be free, but he thinks she wants to kiss him. Linda and Tulio watch as they don’t get along and drop a disco ball and play Lionel Ritchie to help set the mood. They think they’re mating and go off to dinner, as Blu and Jewel are left fighting. The security guard is dancing to Carnival music on the radio and doesn’t notice a smuggler sneaking in to get the birds. He finds the white bird who attacks him and reveals himself to be working with the smugglers. He lets in a little boy who captures Blu and Jewel, who are still arguing.
Blu and Jewel are in a cage playing dead as the child named Fernando brings them to the black market. He’s paid half of what was promised him, and when the cage is uncovered the head smuggler Marcel is upset as he thinks the birds are dead. Jewel wakes up, bites him, and almost gets away but is brought to the ground by the white Macaw Nigel who takes her back to the cage. Blu and Jewel are chained together around their ankles and are brought into another room where more birds are being held. Fernando is told they’ll be given to good homes, but he overhears the men saying they don’t care what happens to them as long as they get their money.
Fernando walks alone and sits, finding a blue feather. He’s clearly homeless. The man talks to his cronies (Tipa and Armando) about taking care of the birds. They do rock paper scissors over who has to feed Nigel. Meanwhile, Blu and Jewel continue arguing as she just wants to be free. Nigel is like a prison guard, taunting the birds. He sings a song about how he used to be a popular beautiful bird but he was replaced by a parakeet, making him the way he is. He grabs Jewel but Blu sticks up for her. She starts banging on the cage trying to get out. Blu shows her how to simply open the door and they get out as the cage hits Nigel.
They are now outside trying to get away while chained together as the two men are chasing after them. Blu sees a cat and barks, causing it to distract the men. Nigel is still flying after them as they are going through houses, flying on part of a roof as if they’re on a magic carpet. They also cause the power to go out in the entire city at the end of a soccer game.
Meanwhile, while at dinner, Linda and Tulio get a call that the birds have been captured and Linda is blaming Tulio.
Nigel flies away and as they walk they continue arguing. Blu is domesticated and is therefore scared of the animals in the jungle. They settle on sleeping on the top of a house that’s there. They talk and it’s revealed to Jewel that Blu doesn’t know how to fly.
Linda and Tulio are walking around with fliers looking for Blu. In the morning, Fernando sees Linda and Tulio sleeping and tells them that he knows where Blu is and will take them to see him. Tulio tells Linda not to trust him, but she goes anyway. Back at the place, the men have spray painted two birds blue to try and make Marcel think they’re Blu and Jewel. Marcel puts Nigel in charge of finding the birds.
Blu and Jewel try to make a sort of pulley to break their chain but it doesn’t work. Two baby toucans come to hug them, but wind up attacking them (and now there are 7). The father toucan (Rafael) comes to the rescue. Carnival (parade) is currently going on and Rafael tries to convince his wife that he needs to help Blu and Jewel get the chain off while at the same time sneaking to Carnival, and she lets him go. He friend Luiz who will help with the chain is 30 minutes away by flight but their trip will be much longer as they must walk.
Tourists are taking pictures of a performing monkey at the parade who is stealing their money and jewelry. Back in the jungle, all the monkeys are dancing with their stolen jewelry. They are greeted by Nigel who tells them he needs their help to find Blu and Jewel. In exchange for helping, he’ll let them live. He does this by example by taking the main monkey into the air and saving him right before he falls.
Rafael, Blu, and Jewel are on the top of a cliff and they’re trying to teach Blu how to fly as hang gliders go by. Blu is terrified. Part of the flying together process is that Blu and Jewel need to stand close to one another with their arms around each other. Rafael falls off the cliff and shows him how easy flying is. Blu knows he has to fly to see Linda again and they take off. Of course he chickens out and they fall before landing on the top of a hang glider. Blu is loving the sights and decides to try flying again, causing them to fall off the hang glider and cause a commotion as they cover the fliers face and fly through everyone on the beach. The three birds decide to jump on a truck and catch a ride. Tulio, Linda, and Fernando just miss them. Fernando tells them he can get them through the traffic and trades his truck for a motorcycle, taking them on a dangerous ride.
The birds get off the truck and see two others that know Rafael. It’s Nico and Pedro from earlier. They recognize Blu from getting out of the cage and tease him and Jewel about being lovebirds. They tell them they need to get to the next level and to enjoy themselves. As they walk away we see the monkeys communicating to one another with signs, flags, and a cell phone since they found them.
The five birds are now in a dance club for birds. Nico and Pedro introduce them and sing and perform for them in the club. Blu feels the beat and starts to dance, remembering his roots and himself when he was a baby before he was captured. Blu and Jewel dance together and are about to kiss when the lights come on. It’s the monkeys who say they’re taking them away, but Jewel spits at him. All the birds in the club stand up for them, causing the fight “Birds vs. Monkeys!” They get away being carried by another bird and land on the top of a trolley.
Meanwhile, Tulio, Linda, and Fernando get to the place where the birds were being held captive but they’re all gone. He tells Linda and Tulio that he was the one who took them. The smugglers come in and Linda and Tulio are hiding as they tell Fernando about going to the parade. They’re dressed as birds. Fernando leaves with the smugglers, leaving it up to Tulio and Linda to drive the motorcycle, which he clearly can’t do so Linda takes over.
Nigel approaches the bird club asking the monkeys where they are and tortures a little bird for information.
Back on the trolley Blu and Jewel are taking in the sites. Rafael is egging Blu on to make a move on Jewel but he gets nervous. Pedro and Nico sing and play a romantic song to put them in the mood while Rafael tells Blu what to say. He tells her she has beautiful eyes and right before he tells her how he feels he starts choking while she gives him the Heimlich.
They arrive at Luiz’s garage and Rafael is looking for him when a giant bulldog comes out and attacks them. It turns out HE is Luiz and pals around with Rafael. He has to use a saw to get off the chain and everything goes in slow motion as they’re scared and Jewel starts flying. Blu has a feather cut off but they’re both thrilled as the chain is broken and they’re free. Jewel starts flying and the four birds start flying for Carnival leaving Blu sitting there watching them. Luiz talks to Blu who looks very sad knowing that he can’t fly with them. He starts to walk away and Jewel flies down to ask him what’s wrong. Blu tells her that he can’t spend his life walking around following her and she tells him it’s not her fault he can’t fly. Blu starts ranting about how he doesn’t want to be there and hates samba. They argue and leave one another, despite Rafael’s protests that they belong together. Rafael goes after Blu while the other birds go after Jewel.
Nigel captures Jewel while Pedro and Nico are flying after her, but are scared and leave. They find Rafael and Blu and tell them how Nigel is taking her to the parade. Blu rides on Luiz as they get to Carnival. Meanwhile, Marcel is at the parade and sees the other two smugglers and Fernando on a giant, decrepit looking bird float. At the same time, Tulio and Linda overhear a man saying performers only are allowed in a certain area. They dress up like blue macaws and when they see one another they seem to fall in love and almost kiss. They squawk like the birds and get backstage calling out for Blu. Linda is put inside a float in the parade however and is trying to hide and get off. The smuggler’s float is being booed and Jewel is underneath at the bottom of their float. Nigel is talking to Jewel about how they’ll get Blu when he tries to find her.
Blu and Luiz are dancing in the parade while Rafael, Pedro, and Nico fly overhead. Tulio is looking for Linda and sees her on a float as he tries to get through. Linda can’t understand what is being said to her by a parade coordinator since it’s in Spanish, but Tulio tells her she needs to shake her tail feathers. She sees Blu on top of Luiz down below and has to do a sort of dance with performers as she tries to get down to him. Blu, although he sees Linda, decides he needs to get to Jewel and goes away with Luiz. Blu gets off of Luiz and hops on a skateboard working his way through the parade. Linda and Tulio see him and are trying to get to him, but Blu gets in the float and sees Jewel. However he’s captured by Nigel and sees Pedro, Nico, and Rafael have also been captured. Now that Marcel has all three birds he gets off the parade route. Fernando feels bad as he sees Linda and Tulio chasing after them. Linda takes over another float and they go after them on that.
The smugglers and Fernando are putting the birds with the rest of them but Fernando tries to let Jewel and Blu free. He’s stopped by Marcel and Nigel but bites him to get away. Meanwhile Linda is driving a huge bright float to get to them. The small plane that the smugglers are on hits the top of the float as it takes off and Linda is left crying with Tulio. Just then we see Blu working on a contraption to get them out of their cage. He uses a fire extinguisher to open the cage and they let all the birds out. He opens the back of the plane but the cages blocking the door prevent the smugglers from getting in. All the birds fly out of the plane and Jewel tries to take Blu but he’s scared to fly. As they’re about to do it, Nigel comes in to attack and the cage falls on Jewel’s wing. Blu takes the fire extinguisher to tie it around Nigel’s foot and he gets sucked into the fan/engine as the plane is going down. Tipa and Armando jump out of the plane into the water. Jewel gets knocked off the plane but her wing is hurt so she’s unable to fly. Blu remembers trying to fly as a baby and goes after her. She kisses him in the air as he holds on to her and they start flying just before they hit the water. We also see Tipa and Armando holding on to Marcel who has a parachute.
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