I remember renting this one from the video store, as there was quite a lot of buzz when it came out. And I also remember liking it, though thinking it wasn't all that special and somewhat undeserving of all the attention. I hadn't seen it since, so I figured it would be fun to revisit it. It still holds up, but I remain uncertain about why it got such glowing reviews back then.
Pfeiffer does pretty well as a well-meaning teacher who is given a "special needs" class. Mostly colored kids from poor neighborhoods who don't care much about school. After a rocky start and a little perseverance, she starts to get through to them, but one (wo)man can't change the world.
If you get triggered by white savior narratives or Hollywoodian simplifications then this isn't the film for you. But the kids act well, the drama is decent enough and the film isn't too drawn out, which is a blessing. Not a future classic, not even that remarkable a film, but it's not the worst drama either.