Katherine Heigl & Gerard Butler star in crass and sexist romcom - that’s The Ugly Truth.

Hard on the spike heels of the lame Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy The Proposal comes yet another battle-of-the-sexes romcom. Difficult though it may be to imagine, The Ugly Truth is much, much worse – a hideously misguided attempt to marry girly chick-flick sentiment with laddish Judd-Apatow-style raunch.

Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler play the film’s chalk ‘n’ cheese pairing. She’s Abby Richter, the ball-breaking producer for a morning talk show in Sacramento, and he’s Mike Chadway, a boorish cable TV shock jock who’s brought in over her head to pep up the show’s flagging ratings with his merciless pointers to the lovelorn. Sample of his brutal advice to women looking for a man: “Get a Stairmaster.”

The Ugly Truth - Gerard Butler’s shock jock Mike Chadway puts a couple of babes on the TV show

Abby is a neurotic, control-freaky singleton; she gets her assistant to do background checks on her internet dates and has a checklist of qualities to be met by her ideal man. Of course, knuckle-dragging Neanderthal Mike ticks none of her boxes: it’s loathe at first sight.

Yet thanks to the kind of contrivance only a team of screenwriters (three, all women) can conceive, when Abby sets her cap at her dreamy surgeon neighbour (Eric Winter), it’s Mike she turns to for tips on how to snag him. Inevitably, he gives her a makeover: taking her shopping, changing her hair and pushing her into a push-up bra. When she goes on a date with the doc, he’s there too, talking into her earpiece to guide her through the necessary manoeuvres; the well-worn Cyrano-steal that Steve Martin pulled off with infinitely more comic panache in Roxanne.

The Ugly Truth - Katharine Heigl’s Abby Richter goes on a date with Eric Winter’s dreamy doctor Colin

The film’s nadir comes after Mike gives Abby some remote-controlled vibrating underwear as a gift. Somehow, she ends up wearing them to a starchy business dinner and gets her knickers in more than a twist when a kid on a neighbouring table takes hold of the remote.

Naturally, the pair will eventually come around to seeing each other in a different light, but we have to endure yet more witless piffle before they get there. Butler comes through relatively unscathed, but Heigl, so good opposite Seth Rogen’s stoned slacker in Knocked Up, so wasted in this and last year’s 27 Dresses, seems hell bent on squandering her comic gifts.

On general release from 7th August.