Obituary: Film Critic’s Life Lacked Compelling Narrative Arc

Internet movie critic Robert “Bob” Umeck passed away in his sleep on Friday night at the age of 79. Bob’s death was as uneventful as his life, which can be described, at best, as thoroughly mediocre. What began as a promising youth quickly devolved into a middle age section that failed to adequately deliver on its original premise.


Bob had initially planned on becoming a screenwriter but upon encountering the inevitable obstacles that any “artist” faces, he prematurely surrendered the goals that made him an engaging character and instead settled for a career in amateur film criticism. Bob worked for several decades at a minor newspaper in Topeka before transitioning to the web with his relatively obscure Bob’s Take blog, where he meandered through the rest of his life without a clear motivation or purpose.


Over the years, Bob wrote thousands of reviews for films ranging from Titanic to Nomadland. Unfortunately, he seldom offered any truly valuable insights. Each review was virtually identical to the last, rehashing the same formulaic and painfully obvious critiques that the average person could easily make on their own. Of course, there was no better embodiment of average than Bob.


It was evident throughout Bob’s writing that he believed his arguments to be uniquely perceptive, but this pretentious attitude served only to expose his limited knowledge of filmmaking. Likewise, his routine attempts at witticisms often fell entirely flat with his audience. Readership was inconsistent from the blog’s inception, with most visitors quickly growing weary of Bob’s pedestrian commentary. In better hands, Bob’s Take might have been a prime destination for cinephiles seeking incisive film analysis. But Bob lacked either the vision or the talent, or perhaps both. He ultimately failed to convince the public that he was a film critic worthy of our attention.


Bob’s personal life was equally unremarkable. He is survived by his two young adult sons from his marriage to Kate Umeck, who died in 2013. Bob frequently described Kate as “adorably quirky,” but according to friends, she seemed mostly one-dimensional and served no apparent purpose other than to advance her husband’s ambitions. That isn’t to say that her husband’s ambitions were anything to write home about. In fact, it is precisely the absence of an identifiable theme that made Bob’s life story so fundamentally lackluster. There is perhaps no better elucidation of this than in the contrast between Bob’s life and that of his exemplary father, Richard Umeck.


Unlike Bob, Richard Umeck had a highly successful career as a published novelist, many of his books having been featured on nationwide bestseller lists. His work became a literary institution in its time and those who knew him described Richard as possessing one of the most captivating minds they had ever encountered. Quite frankly, following Richard Umeck’s life with Bob was an unnecessary exercise. What could have been an admirable legacy has been permanently blemished by a derivative descendant.


Overall, Bob Umeck’s life wasn’t horrible, but it was most certainly forgettable. And furthermore, it was at least ten years too long. There were numerous times when everyone was waiting for it to end. Bob had so little to offer the world and yet insisted on offering it nonetheless, and for far longer than most would have appreciated. Let’s hope that his children better understand the value of brevity.




Services will be held at Valley Funeral Home on Saturday at 10:30am, 12:45pm, 2pm, 4:15pm, and 7pm.