For generations, the Riveras have banned music because they believe they have been cursed by it. As their family history goes, Miguels great-grandfather abandoned his wife Imelda, decades earlier to follow his own dreams of performing, leaving Imelda to take control as the matriarch of the now-thriving Rivera line and declare music dead to the family forever.
But Miguel harbors a secret desire to seize his musical moment, inspired by his favorite singer of all time, the late Ernesto de la Cruz. It is only after Miguel discovers an amazing link between himself and De la Cruz that he takes action to emulate the famous singer and, in doing so, accidentally enters the Land of the Dead.
In the beautiful underworld, its not long until Miguel encounters the souls of his own family generations worth of long-dead but no less vivacious Rivera ancestors, including great-grandmother Imelda. Still, given the opportunity to roam around the Land of the Dead, Miguel decides to track down De la Cruz himself. He teams up with another friendly (and skeletal) spirit a trickster named Hector, voiced by Bernal to find De la Cruz, earn his familys blessing to perform, and return to the Land of the Living before time runs out.